Tag Archives: Readers

Results of Survey

Welcome to my first post in our awesome new home!

PJ here. I hope you’ll find the updated digs engaging, user friendly, and informative. I, and each of my Scribe sisters will continue providing you with twice weekly blog posts, rotating through on Mondays and Thursdays so that each of us will be with you only once a month. The good news is that posts will be left active for the three days in between so more folks will have time to pop in, visit, and leave comments.

So, I’ll be back here Thursday, March 6th with my next post. By then, I’m sure I’ll have something super exciting to share with you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss anything.

Now, for the results of our survey, based on 25 responses:

1)      Do you think blogging is a useful endeavor for authors?

58% said yes, 12% said no, and 30% said maybe.

2)      How many blogs do you currently subscribe to?

52% said (0-5), 24% said (5-10), and 24% said (10 or more)

3)      What types of blogs do you follow?

68% said Writers blogs (tips on industry info), 12% said Readers blogs (from your favorite authors), and 20% chose “other” with responses indicating personal hobbies ie: photography, travel, mommy sites, and such.

4)      What do you like to see on a blog or website?

40% chose an Active site with daily blogs from different authors, only 12% liked the idea of a static site, while 44% preferred an Active site with contests, reviews, and guest bloggers. 36% chose “other’, responding with comments suggesting that 2-3 time per week blogs were plenty. Also noted was that the respondents would like to continue seeing insider industry information, marketing tips, as well as book reviews, entertainment, interactive conversation, and guest bloggers blogging on writing related topics.

5)      What would make you subscribe to a blog?

52% chose “Industry Insider info on self-publishing”, 36% would subscribe to “writing craft blogs”, and another 56% of respondents also chose “A variety of interesting, entertaining, and informative posts.” 12% who said “other” said all of the above and one commented that if they were to follow an individual author they would sign up for their newsletter.

6)      Which of the following would most likely make you unsubscribe to a blog?

Almost 46% said “too frequent posts”. 12.5% said too infrequent posts, while 25% said “inconsistent/unfocused content”.  17% sited ranting, offensive, or boring posts as reasons to unsubscribe, along with posts that are too long, inaccurate, rude, or irrelevant.

And lastly,

7)      What would you like to see at the Secrets of 7 Scribes in the coming year?

We heard everything from “no interviews” to “more interviews”, the “writer’s journey” to “more about how to get published”. Requests were made for posts on “what agents are looking for” and “sneak peeks into the writing process and related topics about each author’s journey.” “Theme weeks/months” were suggested (LOVE that one!), and a few votes for and against holding contests were noted.

I don’t need to tell you that polls like these can be terribly skewed, depending on the questions, how they are worded and the pool of respondents. As such, there was nothing scientific about the survey and most people who responded were probably writers, given that’s the readership we’ve attracted over the years. Taking these factors into consideration,  our results aren’t too surprising, but I enjoyed reading the comments and we have lots of food for thought!

anorexic top 10-4I’ll end by giving a big thanks to all who responded. We heard you, and hopefully you’ll stick with us and see what we have in store for you. We appreciate each and every one of you who engage with us here at the Secrets of 7 Scribes on a regular basis. We hope you’ll continue to do so.

In the meantime, the randomly chosen winner of the critique of a query letter, synopsis, or first chapter was Julie Glover. Congrats Julie!

What do you think of our survey results? Agree, disagree, wondering how you’ll live without our daily posts? As always, we’d love to have you comment and pitch in your two cents.

Write for Joy

Thea Devine today, urging you to take a time out from all the industry turmoil, questions, opinions, critiques, disappointments, marketing questions, publicity plans, and opportunities, and just sit down and write something for the pure joy of it.

Write something you want to write exactly the way you envision it and want to write it. Don’t think about editors, critique groups, beta readers, marketing requirements, anything. Just write.

Write the way you used to write before the idea of publications was even a gleam in your eye.

Write what interests you. I believe with all my heart that what interests me will interest the reader. You see that when there’s a wave of books centering on the same elements: babies, vampires, billionaires, surviving a dystopian future.

Writing for joy doesn’t require any critiquing except your own. Guard what you’ve written with all that’s within you. And you must not only like what you write, you must LOVE what you write.

If you love what you’re write, your conviction and the love shine through. A reader can tell. So write for joy because you’re a reader and there’s a story you want to tell that you would want to read.

I love what I write, every single word, even the mss that have been rejected, even things I wrote years ago.

Write for joy because it’s so liberating.

Write for joy because there’s no one standing over your shoulder saying, “you can’t.” You absolutely can.

Write for joy to reconnect with why you love to write in the first place.

And most of all, write for joy because — you can.

Have you ever written for joy? Just for you? Did you love it? Was it different? The same? Did you let go more than you thought you would?

Thea Devine is the author of more than two dozen erotic romances. She’s currently at work on a contemporary erotic romance and happy for the reissue of five of her early backlist titles in Kindle editions.

Country of the Mind

Thea Devine today. On this past Monday morning, around 11am, we drove into town for the annual Memorial Day parade. Perfect day: bright sun, blue sky, warm weather, fresh breeze — and people. Town was jam-packed with people all along Main Street, two, three, five deep, and there wasn’t a place to park anywhere near. We finally got a spot in a little field about a quarter mile from Main Street and joined a crowd hiking toward to the main event.

It hadn’t started yet, but the staggering number of people lining the street was an event in itself. Kids, parents, teens, tweens, boyfriends, girlfriends, dogs, grandparents, town officials all merging and mingling, looking for friends, space, refreshments, for the parade to begin.

This, I thought, was the essence of why hearth and home books resonate so vibrantly in romance. This is the country of the mind; it is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, a place that exists in the imagination, in the heart, and sometimes in life.

A place, perhaps, one has been seeking without even knowing it. The place you know is home in a deep visceral way, even if you don’t want to admit it.

In fiction, it takes a good three hundred pages for the heroine to come to terms and admit it. The reader is already there, because those tropes tap into our deepest desire for community and acceptance in a place where everybody knows who you are. Your family, as it were.

Standing on the sidelines and watching the parade — the bands, the old timey cars, the re-enactors, the antique fire trucks, the members of the Service clubs, the staff of the Library, everyone who marched — I turned to John and whispered, I love this place.

I do … love this place. I feel like the heroine who has finally found her home. I’ve had deep yearnings to gather my cousins here, in my place, so we can be as close as our families were when I was growing up in Brooklyn and Sunday was mandatory visit grandma day.

But a visit or an email isn’t quite the same as noisy family dinner on a Saturday night. Like any beleaguered heroine, I never thought I’d miss that after all these years, or wish I could recreate those times. I’m sad my sons will never experience them too.

After the parade was over, everyone poured into the street which had turned into a traffic-free plaza — either to meet friends, or see who was there, or to wend their way to where they’d parked, stopping to chat with neighbors, friends, parade participants, along the way.

I took lots of pictures, grateful this wasn’t the small town of my imagination, or a small fictional town in a future novel I might write. It was my town, here and now, my place, my home.

Did you go to your Memorial Day Parade? Do you feel like you’ve found your place, your home? Is it what or where you thought it would be?

PS re: RT. I’m pleased to say I was one of the thirty- year “pioneer” authors honored by RT at this year’s convention in Kansas City. It was a well attended convention, I heard estimates of as many as 1500-2000 attendees, and there was a spectacular number of workshops to suit every taste, every genre and every level of experience, plus receptions, parties, meet and greets and a special fan event.

The big booksigning was HUGE and swarming with avid readers. The hotel was lovely with lots of places to sit and chat. The 30th Anniversary Gala was fun; we were all asked to say a few words to the attendees after Kathryn Falk spoke about the thirty years that Romantic Times had been a force in the industry.. You might have heard EL James was there — she was, but I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her. I had a wonderful time.

In fiction as in life …?

Thea today, writing from the grandbaby’s house where I’m caretaking him for the next few weeks, and I’m still crazy in love — even after 15 months. Which feeds into the next momentous month in which John and I celebrate our 47th anniversary. It’s kind of staggering to think it’s been that many years. But even more so, how we met, about two years before that, just after he’d just graduated college and we separately both attended to a party at the home of my friend Sharon in Newark, NJ.

I like to think ours was a grand love story, but maybe, because we were an interfaith couple (no small thing back then), it was more about rebellion. Or our just being together and figuring all of it out as we went.

Cut to ten years later. We were living in Brooklyn. I was pregnant out to the there with my eldest son. We were at a performance of Trelawny of the Wells at Lincoln Center. In the break between the first and second act, we were milling in the lobby, and a woman approached me. “Is your name Thea?”

I said yes. She told me her name and asked if I remembered her. I did. She was a friend Sharon’s and we’d hung out several times, no more than that, back in the days after that party at Sharon’s house. But I hadn’t seen her in more than ten years, and I’d not been in contact with Sharon either after John and I married.

She said, “Sharon is dead.”

Last thing I expected to hear. The words exploded like a bomb, chilling me to the bone. Sharon had died of complications of Type 1 diabetes. She couldn’t have been more than 35 years old.

“I thought you should know,” she said And then she was gone, leaving me devastated. And I couldn’t find her in the audience or after, and I never saw her again.

I still get chills thinking about it. How did she recognize me after all that time, AND that pregnant?
How did it happen this one night she and I were separately in the audience and she saw me, she knew me — and felt confident enough that I was who she thought I was to approach me? And how could she just disappear, never to be seen again?

I’ve often thought that incident would make a terrific scene in a book. Except for the fact she vanished. In a book, she’d have to return at some point because otherwise the reader would be questioning where she went and what her purpose was. It’s not enough just to have a character deliver bad news and exit right. There has to be some reason, some driving motivation, everything interconnected, all ends tied up.

Fiction is not life. Life is random. That moment at Lincoln Center was random — but was it? It haunts me even after all these years because it all seemed so coincidental — and yet it wasn’t. Still, I wonder … was she an angel sent perhaps by Sharon to tell me I was being watched over? I only recently even considered that. And if so, what signs have I missed all these years not contemplating that possibility? Or was it just a really intriguing idea to springboard a plot for a novel I have yet to write?

Of course that would be my first thought. Wouldn’t it be yours?

Or is there more to it than that?

Still and all, at this anniversary time of the year, I remember Sharon. I can close my eyes and see her just as she was, a pretty red-headed twenty year old, bedeviled but never beaten down by the disease that would take her life. But back then, at that party that night, without knowing it, by inviting John Devine, she gave me my future and my life.

What do you think? Was it a coincidence? Meant to be? An angel? A figment of my imagination? Have you ever had a moment like that?

Thea Devine is the author of 27 erotic historical and contemporary romances, five of which have just been reissued in Kindle editions. and nearly a dozen novellas. She’s been named a Romance Pioneer by Romantic Times, and is currently working on a new erotic contemporary novel.

How to Choose a Writer’s Conference

PJ here, happy to be on the East coast and back in my own bed…ahhhh. After doing this writing thing for a while, I’ve been to quite a few writer’s conferences, and I wanted to share my experience on how to choose the “right” conference for you. If you belong to RWA or a similar writer’s organization, you probably get inundated with lots of options. Here are a few things to think about.

Location/Accommodations: Check out the hotel venue and make sure the location is some place you’d like to stay for a few days. A bad night’s sleep, disappointing food, or poor quality hospitality can really put a damper on your stay. It’s worth visiting the hotel’s website and checking out their reviews. Make plans for car rental and recreational activities ahead of time so you don’t get there with hopes of visiting a locale on your “down time” only to find that you can’t get a car rental on short notice or the place you want to visit is closed. Although you are going for business, one of the perks of traveling is enjoying the sights along the way. Also, check to see what is around your hotel. Are there local restaurants and shopping within walking distance? Is there a gym? An indoor pool? Are you next to a train yard, airport, or in a bad section of the city? Some of these things may not be important to you, but if they are, make sure you know what you are paying for ahead of time. Scope out your hotel and surrounding area on Google maps.

Price: Is it affordable and worth the money for what you are getting? Are meals included? Are the speakers well known and knowledgeable? Is it worth your time, money, and effort? Remember to consider your loss of income while you’re away from your day job, and factor in any accrued costs such as wardrobe, entertainment, and additional travel fees (taxis, trains, buses etc.). Remember to save all receipts for tax purposes.

Focus of conference: Does the conference offer workshops that will help you further your career goals? If you are a newer writer, make sure there are craft workshops geared to what you’d like to learn. If you are seeking publication, are there opportunities to meet with agents and editors to pitch your story? Agent and editor panels offer a great opportunity to ask questions, find out what they are looking for, and hear the latest about the industry from publishing professionals. If you are a published author, do they offer promotion, marketing, and business oriented workshops? Interested in self-pubbing? Do they offer the most updated information available in this rapidly growing and changing aspect of the industry? If you are participating in a book signing, how successful have previous years been and how many readers can you expect to see? Shipping books is expensive, so ask for clear answers about realistic expectations. My experience is that print books don’t sell all that well at conferences and I rarely recoup the cost of shipping. I can see e-books being the way to go for future signings.

Networking: Conferences are a wonderful place to meet like-minded individuals and make professional contacts that you might never have the chance to meet otherwise. Don’t stalk the agents and editors but research them and know who you’d like to make a connection with. Make the effort to sit next to them at lunch or dinner (or in the bar). Be ready to talk intelligently about your work. Be prepared with a SHORT pitch of your WIP. Create a one or two sentence summary (log line) of what your story is about. The most common question asked at conferences is “What do you write?” The second most common question is “What is your story about?” Have an answer memorized and ready, and confidently smile as you give them your brief spiel. Don’t monopolize their time, but use the time wisely. If you get tongue tied and start rambling or their eyes begin to glaze over, stop talking and ask them a question about something unrelated. Where are you from? Are you a writer, too? Do you love baseball, zumba, pole dancing? Something that will put you at ease and take the heat off of you until you can collect yourself and get comfortable enough not to sound like an idiot. These are just people, but they are professionals and are there to FIND YOU! Respect their time, but don’t let your fear stop you from putting yourself out there.

Quality Speakers: I cannot stress this enough. Do some research on the speakers. What are their publishing/professional credentials? Just because they are there, doesn’t mean they are interesting, entertaining, or an expert in their field. Have they done this workshop before? How many times? Ask around to other writers and check out the websites of your presenters. If they don’t have a professional website that is engaging and informative, it might be an indicator that they aren’t all that well organized.

Organization: If you’ve ever participated in organizing a conference, you know about the gazillion moving parts and the army of people it takes to put on a seamless production. Of course there are always things that go wrong or details that get missed, but overall, organizers want it to be a good experience for everyone and they want attendees to return year after year to support the effort. If they don’t return e-mails, or answer your questions clearly up front, chances are the conference won’t be much better organized than the individuals running it. Conferences are generally a way for organizations to make money to support writers and their endeavors, so organizers (who are all volunteers, so be patient and kind to these people) are invested in making your conference experience successful. If there are suggestions you have for improvements, be sure to share them with conference organizers.

And last but not least, Food: You might have to contact the conference organizers for this information, but it’s worth asking about the menu ahead of time. If you have dietary restrictions or just want to make sure that some healthy selections are available, it’s worth the added effort to ensure that your needs are known ahead of time. You also have the option of doing a bit of shopping when you get settled in and stocking your hotel room refrigerator (make sure one is available in your room when you book your reservation) with fruit, yogurt, water, etc. so you can avoid the breakfast buffets that offer all those yummy bagels, pastries, muffins, and such. Will there be adequate chocolate selection at breaks? Just sayin’.

Unlocked Secret: Do your research, guys. There are enough choices for quality conferences around the country and your educational dollars are valuable, so make them count and get the most of your experience.

I hope to see you all at the RWA National convention in Atlanta this summer. It’s shaping up to be a fabulous time!

Any other tips for our readers to help them find a quality conference? What has been your favorite conference experience? Any funny experiences you’d like to share from the “trenches”?

I Was A Freelance Manuscript Reader

Thea Devine here, with a true confession:  Long ago in a publishing landscape far away (and over the course of the next twenty-five years),  I read manuscripts for several mass market publishing houses, back before electronic transmissions, back when we were writing 500 pp. books on real paper.

I read historical and contemporary romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, mysteries, sagas, fiction for reprint, and non-fiction, agented and slush.  And I assure you every proposal was looked at, no matter what form it arrived in — single spaced, cursive font, unchaptered, block paragraphs, handwritten, buried in popcorn. strangled in rubber bands.

And there were always manuscripts;  just the number of conferences across the country on a weekly basis assured that.  But after National — the deluge.

During those years, I never had an editor tell me what to look for, what they didn’t want to see.  Nothing was culled before it landed on the reader’s shelf.

But really — it was always about the story.  Those grab and go opening pages still grab editors..  And they really do know it when they see it..

But what the editor told me when she hired me was, don’t be afraid to be wrong.

Think about that.   Don’t be afraid to be wrong.  Because what if you passed up another Gone With The Wind or DaVInci Code?  What if the manuscript you loved was shot down and rejected by the editor and then became a best-seller for another publisher? (It happened).  What  if … in the fragile world of publishing as it was then, and is now, so dependent on the subjective opinion of reader and editor.

Don’t be afraid of rejection.  Because the editor could be wrong.  And if the editor could be wrong, then a rejection doesn’t t mean you wrote the worst book ever.  It just means this book didn’t move the editor or it didn’t fit into a particular marketing slot.

That still holds true.  The market itself will judge a book, in this new publishing milieu, if not an editor in a publishing house.   All you can do is write.

Some writing secrets from the reader:

It’s the story. It’s always been the story.  It’s how you get into the story.  Get your characters moving.  Make sure the inciting incident is critical, grabs the reader, and requires your characters to do something.

Conflict.   Your protagonists can’t want the same things (his family stole her family’s business;  she wants to get it back; he wants to give it back), even though they can want the same thing (an object of desire — like the Grail in Indy 3).

Pile it on.  The more obstructions, obstacles and problems you present your protagonists, the harder it will be for an editor — or reader — to put your manuscript down.

Grammar counts.  Sorry.  No dangling participles.  Subject and verb must agree.  A line edit takes forever on a manuscript that needs a lot of work.

Motivation.  Why exactly did your heroine go into the burning mine when everyone specifically cautioned her not to?  There are always reasons why your characters do what they do. Make sure your reader buys into it.

Make sure the ending holds up after all the build up.

Have you ever been rejected?  How did you handle it?  Do you think a publisher using readers is a good thing or bad?

“Liking” and “tagging”

PJ here again! It feels strange to be here on a Wednesday, but I’m filling in for our dear Thea Divine. Big shoes to fill, I must say. I’m doing double duty today, so don’t forget to stop on over at Kiss and Tell YA where I’m talking about “Luck” with the fabulous ladies there. To make it interesting for all of you, anyone who leaves a comment on both sites is entered to win a signed copy of my latest book SAVAGE CINDERELLA which is available a day or two ahead of schedule. To make it even more interesting and a big help to me, if you also go to the books Amazon page and “like” it and “tag” it, I’ll enter your name twice in the drawing.

What the heck is “liking” and “tagging” you ask? Well, let me tell you. No, it’s not some kind of cyber-hide-n-seek. If you go to Amazon and search for a book, the page will come up with a “Buy” button that instantly drops that book onto your Kindle, right? I have to say, the first time I saw one of my books with its own Amazon page, I was tickled pink. I had arrived! Yet I wondered how anyone would find my books with the gazillion other new releases out there and only a hundred spots on that “Kindle Top 100” list, which you have to sell about 300 books a day to achieve. It turns out that there are something called algorithms that generate not only the top 100 in the paid Kindle store, but many other best seller lists based on the categories the book is found in. For instance, SAVAGE CINDERELLA can be found in JUVENILE FICTION>ROMANCE/LOVE>FAMILY DRAMA. It can also be found in FICTION>ROMANCE>SUSPENSE. I set these categories up when I published my book so that anyone looking for these types of books would be led to mine. But these are still pretty broad headings. So that’s where “tagging” comes in.

If you scroll down the book’s page, you’ll come to a list of tags with little numbers in parentheses beside them. It tells you how many times someone thought that those particular tags suited the description of the book. For instance, you’ll find tags like, YA romantic suspense, YA thriller, kidnapped, survivalism, sexual abuse, family relationships, friendships, etc.  Anyone looking for a Young adult romantic suspense about a kidnapped victim will likely stumble upon my book. Of course if there are several books of this nature available, mine could end up at the bottom of the list of ten or twenty and still never be seen. Here’s where the “tags” and “likes” come in. The more “likes” and “tags” a book has, the higher up on the lists those algorithms place the book on the shelf.

This is such a simple way that authors can support one another, and readers can show their love. Reviews are another way. I know it takes a few extra minutes out of your already crazy busy day, but the benefits are huge to an author. The more reviews a book gets, the more likely readers are to find it. Those reviews not only tell the world it’s a great book, but the number of reviews gets factored into those algorithms and drives the book onto higher visibility pages. If you happen to love a particular book or its author and you want the world to know it, go to Amazon and give the book a review. “Like” it and “tag” it to show your support.

I've arrived!SAVAGE CINDERELLA is now available on Kindle only, until June 13th.  Hardcopies are also available. I’ll be talking about the KDP Select program and explaining the pros and cons of this new Indie-pubbers opportunity on Jennifer Fusco’s MOD blog this Saturday. See you there!

Let me know you’ve “liked” and “tagged” the book and I’ll add another entry for you into the drawing for a signed copy of the SAVAGE CINDERELLA!