Author Archives: Kristin Miller

RWA National Conference Update

This week I’m at the national RWA conference in Anaheim, California. (Hop, skip and a jump from my backyard.) It’s only day two of the conference and I’ve already had such a great time.

I’ve gotten my hands on great freebies,including books, bookmarks and other swag from some of my favorite authors. I’ve attended a few workshops on how to evoke emotion from readers and learned from the best in the biz. I’ve given away books and even had my first signing event with the proceeds going to ProLiteracy Worldwide.

This is my fourth RWA conference, and each year I take away so much valuable information about the market, trends, how the industry is changing, how to write effectively and hone your craft, etc.  But all of those things combined–the books, swag, excitement over the signing, and learning from the best–couldn’t beat my favorite part: the friends I’ve made.

I’ve made friends from Canada, Phoenix, Texas, New York, Maryland, Seattle, to name a few. I talk to everyone. I smile constantly. I try to hide my nerves and absorb as much as I can. Because in a few short days, the conference will be over and I’ll be left staring at my computer screen again. Some of the friends have been quiet, shy even, while others have been loud and boisterous, making me giggle until my cheeks hurt.

While I’d love to post pictures today, I’m sucking wi-fi off the conference lobby and it’s slow as heck. So I’ll leave you with a single picture. One of me and my best friend Bo. He sure was cute…

Fifty Shades of Confused

Let me start this post by saying I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. I have a to-be-read pile that’d make your head spin. (Being unable to read while I write helps that stack grow to insurmountable heights.) BUT even if I didn’t have a bookshelf full of “unreads”, I don’t think I’d give the novels a shot. Let me tell ya why.

1-People either love them or hate them. My beta-reader called me one day screaming about these books. “Move them up in line!” she said. “Read them before the others I gave you!” (Those “others” would be The DaVinci Code and Nora Robert’s Chesapeake Bay seres.) Yet, when I went to spin class last night, the entire class was hashing over their hate of the books. To my surprise, they didn’t *not* like them because they were “smut” (which I was totally expecting), but because they felt like they were waiting for something “magical” to happen. They were waiting for the plot to wrench directions. They were waiting to be excited in something other than the sex scenes. And that waiting never paid off. Being a plot-driven writer and reader, I simply don’t think it’d be my cup of tea.

2-I didn’t care much for The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty written by Anne Rice as A.N. Roquelaure, when she ventured into BDSM and hard core erotica. (Aside: Have you seen what the Shades Trilogy has done for those books? They were off-the-grid until the release. As of right now they’re #75 in erotica on Amazon and holding strong.) Although I like the dynamic of a knowledgeable, powerful hero bedding an innocent, gentle heroine (and teaching her things she didn’t realize she’d enjoy), it didn’t pay off for me when Anne Rice ventured there and she’s a wicked storyteller!

3-It’s fanfiction of Twilight. While I’m all for anything that gets someone writing and furthering the creative process, I’m personally not a fan of reading books based on other books. Well, okay, I *might* give Harry Potter fanfiction a shot. But Twilight? A book that didn’t really get my goat in the first place? It rubs me all shades of wrong. Heh.

4-I’m not up on trends. Ever. I didn’t like Uggs until they were fading out of style. (I still wear mine every winter.) I tend to dislike music until it’s “old” and off the radio. Hell, I couldn’t appreciate Metallica until twenty years later. I didn’t read Twilight until some of the buzz died down. And instead of letting myself get carried away in all the hype, I tend to be cynical, looking for ways it doesn’t measure up to the standard I’ve built in my head. No, I like figuring things out for myself. I like making my own decision about something being cute, or smooth-sounding, or good reading.

I may read Fifty Shades eventually. I may pick it up years down the road when no one is talking about it anymore. (Hunger Games is still on my shelf, waiting to be picked up.) But for now, I’ll settle for reading my “must reads”. (I’ve got Monica McCarty’s The Saint and Lauren Kate’s Rapture on my lap, *waiting* to be devoured!)

What about you? Did you read the books? Did you love them? Go on. Tell me what I’m mising out. Convince me I should read them. Or are you like me, leaving Shades on the shelf until the dust accumulates and it’s too much to bear?

Writing Work Station

Happy Thursday everyone!

Today’s post has to be shorter than normal because edits on Last Vamp Standing are due Sunday evening and I’ve got a TON of work to do.

As I sit here, staring at my work station, I realize how messy it’s become. I used to only be able to write when my desk was clean. When the pens were put away, notebooks were open to just the right page, and my coffee cup was positioned predictably to the left of my computer.

Now, though the coffee cup remains, everything else has fallen apart. Take a look:

I’ve got birthday invitations, earphones, and granola bar wrappers scattered behind my computer, Post-Its stuck to the screen and the wall behind my desk. Tissue and paper towels to the right. It’s a disaster. Hell, I’m a disaster.

Whoever said “Clutter frees the creative mind” just might’ve known what they were talking about because I can’t seem to write anywhere else but this messy ‘ole desk.

What does your workspace look like? Clean and tidy? Messy and cluttered?

 

 

 

Choosing sides of the fence

ImageThere’s been a lot of buzz about self-publishing lately. (Understatement of the year, right?) And while I dabbled in the Indie market with One Night to Remember, my plan has always been to stick with Big 6 publishers and land my books in bookstores nationwide.

After moderating a self-publishing talk with my local RWA chapter, I’m starting to realize how intense the shift from traditional publishing to self-publishing is going to be. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

A few years ago a writer friend of mine sold her tenth book for a traditional print run. The nine books she’d written before the one that sold sat under her bed, in her drawer, locked away on her Mac, whatever. Now, that tenth book hit BIG. I’m talking paint the sky big. What happened to the nine books under her bed? Her agent sold them. And now they’ve broken the sky wide open. Now that the skyline in publishing is changing, I’ve heard all kinds of writers say if they write a book they love, can’t find a place for it in with the Big 6, they’ll simply publish it on their own.

But where does that leave agents? And where does that leave work that may’ve had a chance in the spotlight given the chance? Do those books flounder in the self-publishing market? Do they soar anyway? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Can a writer have a career with both self-published and traditionally published works?

One of the speakers at the self-publishing panel said no. Not likely. She said writers are more likely to have success sticking to one platform or the other. When focus shifts, readership falters.

I’m sure that statement has something to do with the fact that in self-publishing, the writer is the creative mastermind, the cover artist, the editor, the marketing and publicity team, the galley submitter, the formatter, etc, etc, etc. If you’re wearing a thousand hats, time spent on other things (like copy edits for your NY release, for example) simply isn’t there. If you’re writing your heart out for NY (so that your releases are timed 6-9 months apart) and if you’re publicizing the way you should (blog tours, commenting on reviews, etc), where is there time to don the hats self-publishing requires?

The publishing world is shaking up. There are people dying to get in to Big 6 publishing houses (:waves from northern Cali:) and there are people leaving them like they’re on fire, fighting to get their rights back. There are also people straddling the fence, covering their bases, publishing in both venues. I’m not sure which group will come out on top or what the landscape will look like when this world finally stops shaking.

But I figure this: as long as you have a solid grasp on your goals (and are willing to put in the time and effort and heart it takes to reach them), you’ll come out on top.

As for me, I just turned in Last Vamp Standing (Vampires of Crimson Bay #3) to my editor at Avon on Monday. I have a Harlequin Cravings release in July. I’m plotting a “new but different” paranormal series to pitch to the Big 6 this summer. And I’ll let you in on a little secret…if it doesn’t sell, I’m not going to self-publish it. I’m going to hold tight to my dreams, put in the time and effort and heart it takes to reach them, and hold my breath.

 

Claimed by Desire

I have great news! This week I finished writing Last Vamp Standing, Book 3 in the Vampires of Crimson Bay Series! It’s raw and I have a ton of editing to do, but it’s there in black and white. I’ll take that victory and run with it!

And! And! My paranormal novella, Claimed by Desire, from Harlequin Nocturne Cravings is now available!

Mind if I share a taste?

As teenagers, dragon shifter Rafe Landon and empath Misty Burke shared a heart-stopping love and heated passion that neither expected…especially since on the mystical Isle of Feralon, dragons aren’t supposed to embrace members of other races. Fearing for Misty’s life should she be claimed as his rider, Rafe commits the ultimate sacrifice and sets his love free, banishing her from the enchanted isle.

The last thing he expects is for Misty to return to Feralon ten years later as a very mature, and deviously sexy woman on a mission: use her heightened sensory powers to locate the missing Draco stone, a sacred gem that strengthens the dragon race. But Rafe is hiding a secret of his own. Forsaking a rider will end his life…in two days time. Despite his eternal love for Misty, he refuses to imprison her on the isle, condemning her to an early grave.

For Misty, Rafe will gladly pay the ultimate sacrifice—he’ll die, so she can live.

It’s not long before Rafe and Misty are swept away by undercurrents of passion that never waned. Their quest to find the sacred stone may be more of a journey than either realized—one that not only leads to the lost gem, but to true, undying love.

It’s available at Harlequin, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

I’m so thrilled about this series. I’ve wanted to write dragon shifters *forever*. Pretty much since I started writing. This paranormal/fantasy novella gave me just the opportunity. If you’re feeling up for it, jump into the enchanted Isle of Feralon, where dragons rule the skies, werewolves rule the land and merfolk rule the seas!

Enjoy!

Muse Massaging

Because I like lists, and because I’m on a deadline tighter than my skinny jeans, I’ve created lists of things than can both KILL and FUEL your muse. I’m not speaking from personal experience of course. :ahem:

What’s guaranteed to kill your muse stone dead:

1-Reading poor reviews of your other work—don’t do it. Just don’t. A good review won’t suddenly make your writing go from mediocre to New York Times, but a bad review can shoot down your writing day faster than you can say Scotch on the Rocks.

2-Editing another book—if you can help it. I’m “this” close to finishing Last Vamp Standing. The manuscript is due to my editor mid-May and I’m chugging right along. BUT I had to remember to leave enough time to edit a novella that’s coming out with Harlequin this summer. They’re both paranormal. Shouldn’t be too hard to switch between them, right? Wrong. My edit brain works on one level while my creative brain works on a completely different one. Don’t try that at home…

3-Overachieving—Now is not the time to volunteer to work double shifts at work or start a hardcore workout program like Insanity or P90X. Now’s not the time to deep clean your closets or learn how to become a chef. Now’s the time to get your book done. Tackle one beast at a time.

Things that can FUEL your muse:

1-Music—I’m currently listening to Augie March, There Is No Such Place over and over (and ever over) again. My husband recites the definition of insanity to me (you know, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result), but if Augie March is doin’ it for my muse, I’m rolling with it. Find something that does it for you.

2-Dancing. Running. Kick-boxing. Anything physical. Get that blood flowing. Period.

3-Watching a movie in genre—Keep with the tone, the darkness (or lightness) of characters. (Last week I watched The Last Airbender, Underworld and The Hunger Games. Although you’d think that paints a damn foggy picture of the book I’m writing, it’s pretty clear for me…either that or I’m genuinely confused, which is always a possibility…insanity, remember?) Immediately after the movie ends, go home and write. Ideas should flow like wine and if they don’t, drink the real thing.

:Cheers!:

Roberts and Mice and Men, oh my!

Nora Roberts really knows her shit.

I mean, this isn’t late breaking news for anyone who’s read a Robert’s or Robb novel. They wring out your emotions, make you laugh and cry and sympathize with characters you didn’t think you would at the beginning. You can’t go into any romance section without seeing rows and rows of Nora novels, even though bookstores are downsizing.

I’ve seen Nora speak a handful of times, and each time someone asks how she writes, she holds strong to her mantra:

Sit your ass in the chair and write.

Each time she says it, I nod, agreeing that a book can’t be written if you don’t put in the time. Duh, right? You can’t get thin by sitting on the couch. You can’t learn to play sports without getting out there and doing them.

This month I’m reciting her mantra…

I’m smashed under a deadline. Vampires ofCrimsonBay#3 is due in May. I’m…not behind, per se, but I’m definitely not cooling my heels drinking Long Islands. I have to write 1500 words each day in order to meet the deadline which would leave a week or so for edits. Usually that kind of pace would be no problem for me, but this book is heavier than the rest. There’s more at stake. It’s the end of a certain villain and the beginning for a new breed of paranormal creature. (Can’t give too much away!)

I’m finding it beyond difficult to meet my daily word count and distractions are everywhere. (Hello closets, you look like you could use a spring cleaning!) It’d be easy for me to lax on my word count and take off for the weekend now that the weather in Northern Cali has put on its happy face. Instead, I sit my ass in the chair and chug through the words. It’s slow going. It’s give-you-a-headache hard. (Writing is HARD folks, who knew?)

While some days I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, those words are adding up. I’m at 64k (approx 210 pages) and to be honest, I’m not sure how I got there so quickly. Wasn’t I just sloshing through 40k?

All I know is, even on days when the writing is sluggish and the words don’t seem to fit into the puzzle just so, I keep going. I sit my ass in the chair and what do you know…the book takes shape.

When the writing is sunshine and wildflowers, it’s easy to sit in the chair and pump out a chapter or two. When the writing is quicksand…that’s when the men are separated from the mice.

So sit your ass down, leave your closets alone, and get that book done.

Nora Roberts really knows her shit.

Destiny

I believe in destiny. I believe some things are fated to happen. That there is a grand design for everything and everyone. I remember the exact day I realized destiny existed. It was the day I picked up my very first Titanic book in fourth grade. By the time I’d finished reading it, I had more questions than answers.

What do you mean the Titanic was on fire? Why didn’t they slow the ship if they received ice warnings? Why didn’t the lookout have binoculars? What about the calm of the sea and the lack of a moon made for “perfect conditions” for which to hide the iceberg?

I set about to answer those questions and didn’t realize it’d lead me to the obsession with the ship that I have today.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Titanic was fated to sink. (Feel free to disagree, but I don’t believe there was anything the Titanic’s officers could have done to save the ship, even before it left port.) But if that’s the case, and the Titanic was truly fated to sink, what else is fated? Do we have a say in anything at all or are we bouncing along a path that’s already been decided for us?

I have a whole list of things that happened that cold April night on my website HERE, if you want to read about the chain of events that led to one of the greatest maritime tragedies in history.

Whether it was inflated ego, man-made error, a blue berg that shouldn’t have been in the vicinity, a flat calm sea, a moonless night, a coal bunker burning from the start of the voyage, a missing set of binoculars, tiller vs. rudder command confusion, whatever…it’s simply hard to believe the events lined up so perfectly out of sheer coincidence.

That’s what I want to know from you today: destiny or chance? What do you believe?

(Also: If you’re interested in going back to Titanic, but don’t want to be swallowed into Jack and Rose’s ill-fated romance, ONE NIGHT TO REMEMBER is my 80 page erotic historical romance that takes place on the Titanic the night it sank. This time the hero and heroine get their happily ever after. It’s currently .99 on Amazon.)

Titanic Changes

If your head hasn’t been buried under a rock the last few years, you know the publishing industry is changing. Bookstores are disappearing and e-books are on the rise. For authors who have established their careers in traditional ways, the transition to e-only books may be a bit scary. For authors like me who are just starting out, e-books and e-readers are providing opportunities to reach readers without busting our backs (and our fingers) trying to claw our way into New York.

I have the same goal I had three years ago, when I hopped on the publishing train: write the best book I can, then hope and pray that the book gets bought by a Big 6 publisher for a traditional print run. I want to walk into Barnes and Noble, find my book on the shelves and hold it in my hands. Ah, the dream. It’s not too much to ask, right? Right…

But as new opportunities have come around, I’ve found myself jumping into the self-publishing pool. Last week (when I missed my blog post) I was busy publishing my erotic historical novella, ONE NIGHT TO REMEMBER.

I’ve had an obsession with the Titanic since 1988, when I read my first book on the subject and became determined to find out more. Since then, I’ve become an avid collector of everything Titanic. (I even have a chunk of coal that was brought up from the wreck site enclosed in a necklace—I’m wearing it now.)

Anyhow, it’s been my dream to write a book about the Titanic, and I simply didn’t have the time needed to sell it to a major publisher. The 100 year anniversary of the sinking is next month. I needed to publish this puppy *now*. I put everything I had into this novella. All my research, my emotions, my beliefs about why certain things played out the way they did…it’s all there.

If you’re interested in going back to Titanic for a bit (I always am), here’s the cover and blurb:

First class clothing designer Elizabeth Scott isn’t all that she appears. She may be elegant and poised on the outside, dining with the richest on the ship, but she’s hiding a dark secret within.

Thieves boarded the Titanic, too…

Officer Thomas McGuire is as honest as they come. Working to make a decent living on the ship of dreams, he can’t believe his eyes when the most striking lady he’s ever seen steals from another first class passenger. As the night goes on, Thomas must decide whether he plans to arrest or seduce Elizabeth and she’s not making it easy on him–the heat sparking between them is unlike anything they’ve ever known.

Time is running out…

The Titanic is sinking fast. Elizabeth has finally met a true gentleman–one who gazes upon her with total adoration yet fulfills her deepest fantasies. But being a gentleman means more than playing the stuffy part. Thomas insists on helping other passengers until the very end, even if that means going down with the ship.

In the fight for their lives, they just might find a love worth dying for.

*

If you’re interested, you can get your copy for .99 cents HERE.

And if you want to read some really cool facts about the Titanic, I’ve got information on my website: www.kristinmiller.net

All for love

Despite what big box stores would have you believe, Valentine’s Day is not about chocolates or roses or stuffed bears that sing Justin Bieber songs. It’s about love and appreciation. It’s a day to remind that special someone in your life why you love them.

My husband and I don’t generally fuss over Valentine’s Day. We’ve gone to dinner, to the movies, and I’ve received the occasional over-priced bouquet of red roses, tied with a big red bow.

This year we’re doing something different and I’m over the moon thrilled.

We’re going to see Peter Cetera in concert! (What? You mean you’ve never heard of him? He was the lead singer of Chicago, one of the best voices of the 80’s! I’m aging myself here, aren’t I?) Anyhow, I’m kind of a Cetera freak. Any time his music comes on the radio it gets blasted and I sing my off-tuned heart out. My husband isn’t a Peter Cetera fan. (He’s not a fan of my singing, either, but I can’t blame him for that.) He’s more of an AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd type of guy.

But get this…Husband is going to the concert anyway. For me.

He’s going to drive two hours away from home, put up with lines from hell, sit up in the nosebleeds and sing along with me (oh yes he is) all night long. Then all the way home, he’ll get to listen to Cetera CD’s, because what else do you do after you’ve seen someone in concert? That’s right! You keep right on listenin’!

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

And just because I love Peter Cetera so much (and want to share it with y’all), here’s one of my all-time favorite songs. (Check out the hair in the video! Awesome!)

Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, or whomever you spend it with, I hope it’s a great one!

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