Friday, March 26, 2010

Beware the Ides of March

All right, so we’re a little past the Ides of March, but I couldn’t resist. Besides, Beware the End of March didn’t have the same ring. And, also, I do SO love to quote Shakespeare. Even better, I love to use Shakespeare when writing my books. To me, it adds a touch of refinement, fits perfectly with my Regency settings and my characters’ education level, and it can add a bit of foreshadowing or irony to my story.

There’s usually at least one Shakespearian reference in each of my books, though some are more blatant than others. For example, in my upcoming Tall, Dark, & Wolfish, my hero travels north to Scotland in search of a mystical witch. The poor fellow has images of Macbeth’s hooked-nosed, toil-and-trouble, havoc-causing witches so set in his mind the whole journey, he doesn’t have a prayer of recognizing the real witch he seeks, even when she’s looking him straight in the eye.

I also love to use Shakespeare to emphasize an ironic twist. Two gentlemen sit together in the theatre, watching a performance of Julius Caesar, and all the while, the reader knows that one of the two is about to betray the other. Or the na├»ve nephew who spends a night enjoying Richard III and is completely unaware that in real life, he needs to be wary of his power-hungry uncle. For me there is an underlying message when I write scenes like this. That whole know-your-history-and-learn-from-it-or-you’re-doomed-to-repeat-it thing we’ve always heard about.

For me it’s also fun using Shakespeare to help capture a specific feeling for either the book as a whole or for a certain character in particular. I once cast a hero’s actress/ex-mistress in the role of Lady Macbeth, which allowed the heroine to equate her perceived rival with that of the notoriously vicious Scottish noblewoman. And another time, I used Much Ado About Nothing as the performance a bickering couple, who shared one or two similarities with Beatrice and Benedick, had to sit through. Of course, their companions found the evening much more amusing than did the pair I was picking on.

William Shakespeare had such amazing range with his comedies, tragedies, and histories. I honestly believe there is a play out there to match anyone’s personality. For me, knowing which of his plays most suits a particular character can give me a more in depth look into the psyche of the person I’m creating. Do they prefer the whimsical comedies that leave one happy and light-hearted? Or the more serious histories that delve into larger-than-life historical figures? Or his heart-breaking tragedies which all seem to teach one life lesson or another?

So, now, I'm going to play Barbara Walters. Tell me… If you were a Shakespearian play, which play would you be? And can you guess which one fits me?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Member News: Lydia Dare book release

The Lady Scribes blog is buzzing this month because our very own Lydia Dare has her first book, A Certain Wolfish Charm, due for release from Sourcebooks.

The rules of Regency Society can be beastly—especially when you're a werewolf. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn't help his wolfish temper that since he's rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, the town is willing to overlook his outrageous behavior. Lily Rutledge has a wild streak of her own. When she turns to Simon for help, he falls for her immediately. For Simon is drawn to the fearless Lily more powerfully than the moon...

Ladies, thanks for joining me. It’s a poorly kept secret that there are two wonderful writers behind Lydia Dare. Could you each describe the other?

Lydia/Jodie: I used to think that I was shy. Then I met Tammy. She’s the sort who quietly sits in the back of the room and observes EVERYTHING. Her mind is always spinning and she’s very clever.

Lydia/Tammy: Jodie’s bubbly and friendly and social and... well... all the things I’m not. She has a quick wit and is easy to laugh. And she tells me off on a regular basis, which wins her tons of respect from me.

What inspired you to combine paranormal and regency romance?

Lydia/Jodie: Well, I was writing Regency era romance and had hit a brick wall with my then current work in process. And Tammy had run into a similar issue with her then Paranormal romance. Anyway, we were at an all day workshop offered by our local chapter and Tammy tossed out the idea of merging our genres and writing something together. Two months later A Certain Wolfish Charm was complete.

Lydia/Tammy: Regencies are my favourite genre to read, and I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing one, but had a hard time wrapping my mind around the history of the period. So, I started quizzing Jodie at a workshop about whether or not an idea would work and she told me all the reasons it wouldn’t, not in that era. It made sense to combine her Regency and my Paranormal worlds and see if they could merge. They obviously did!

Lydia, can you tell us more about the paranormal regency world you created?

Lydia/Jodie: Well, our world is a lot like many authors’ Regency worlds – elegance and refinement. Carriages and servants. Pretty gowns and handsome rakes. But we’ve added a darker element on the fringe of that world. Things that are talked about only in whispers. Werewolves. Witches. Vampires.

A Certain Wolfish Charm is the first of a growing series. What’s scheduled for release next?

Lydia/Jodie: The Westfield Wolves series are back-to-back-to-back. A Certain Wolfish Charm hits shelves April 6th. Tall, Dark, and Wolfish comes out May 4th. And The Wolf Next Door will be available June 1st. Then we have The Taming of the Wolf, which is scheduled for November 2nd. And next spring we have another trilogy contracted that we are currently working on.

I know you’re incredibly busy right now, new writing, editing, promotional gigs – tell me, what do you both do to unwind?

Lydia/Jodie: What does unwind mean? In all seriousness, I don’t have much time for that. In addition to my writing career, I also have a day job; I’m recently divorced and a single mother; I’ve re-entered the world of dating; I judge several contests; and I’m the President of my local RWA Chapter. But when I get a little time to myself – I love old movies, especially the Screwball Comedies of the 30’s and 40’s. I’m an author, but also a reader – and for me there is nothing like escaping into the world of Regency Era romance. Oh yeah, and a nice Sangria or Pomegranate Martini.

Lydia/Tammy: I am the quintessential sports mom. There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting on the bleachers and watching a kid knock one over the fence or even get their butt whooped on a wrestling mat. I love it all. It’s my all-time favorite thing to do. Aside from that, I probably read more than anything in the little bit of spare time I may have.

To be in the draw [U.S & Canadian residents only due to the cost of postage] for a copy of A Certain Wolfish Charm simply leave a comment describing the most devious steps you've taken to grab some personal time for yourself and include your email address. The winner's name will be posted to the blog tomorrow (Sunday). Best of luck!

**Lydia Dare is the author of A Certain Wolfish Charm, releasing from Sourcebooks Casablanca on April 6, 2010. You can find her at, follow on twitter and become a fan on her facebook page.

You can get other copies signed at the Spring Fling Conference April 23-24, 2010 and the RT Convention April 28 – May 2, 2010.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Our Guest: Melissa Jeglinski

Today I’d like to introduce all of you to my wonderful agent, Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency. Melissa has a unique perspective in the publishing world – that of both agent and editor. Before joining The Knight Agency in 2008, she enjoyed a successful 17 year career with Harlequin.

So, without further ado – Welcome to Lady Scribes, Melissa! Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your knowledge.

Over the years, I’ve listened to a number of agent panels at various conferences and read a lot of agent interviews, and it seems everyone always wants to know, “What are you looking for?” I would imagine since you are the submissions coordinator at TKA, you get asked that a lot. So I don’t want to ask you that per se. But rather – since you see countless query letters, what advice would you offer writers who are submitting? Are there any common mistakes you notice that are easily fixed? And would one of those mistakes prevent you from asking for more information from the writer in question?

Lydia, thanks so much for the invite. I appreciate the opportunity to put in my two cents. Yes, as submissions coordinator for TKA I read about fifty query letter per DAY. And I see the same openings over and over. The writer starts out by asking me a question instead of just giving me information that’s compelling. I suggest trying to be less chatty and more upfront. I want to see a brief synopsis, details about the genre and word count and information about the author. Truthfully, I almost always say no to queries that start with a question or series of questions...unless the plot really captures my attention.

Aspiring authors slave over their first fifty pages, polishing them for submission. As agency slush piles can be endless, how much leeway do you give a submission? If they lose you somewhere on page two, do you stop right there? Or do you give them a little time to grab your interest? And if so, how much time do you give them?

I’m going to sound tough, I know it. But I usually know within the first three pages if a project is right for me or not. The author’s voice should really come through from the first sentence. The first line should capture my interest and the first few paragraphs should set the stage for the drama that is about to unfold. So, yes, if a project loses me in those first few pages, I will turn it down. But, that’s only if there’s nothing there to compell me forward. It may not have the best opening line but if the writing is intriguing, I may give it a chance through the first chapter. I’ve sometimes noticed that a manuscript doesn’t need it’s first chapter at all. Often, it is composed of set up and explanation that can easily be included in other chapters.

The other ladies on this blog knew you were coming today and were anxious to hear what you had to say. I was even asked to ask you some specific questions. I wheedled them down. Here’s what’s left:

What do you wish writers knew about the publishing industry?

It’s a tough world out there and publishers are being extra selective about which projects they take on. I know it’s hard to keep in mind, but you can’t take rejections personally. Publishers are less and less likely to take on anything risky, even if they love your writing. So remember, it’s not always about your project, but it’s always about the market.

If a manuscript is rejected and then revised, how much time should pass before a writer should re-submit? Or should they even do so?

A writer should feel free to resubmit their revised project as soon as they want—but only if revisions were requested. If a request was not sent along with the initial rejection, query again, letting the agent know you’ve done extensive revisions, even giving a brief outline about what you’ve done. If they decline to see the revisions, it may be that your writing and or project just wasn’t right for them and may never be right.

What do you think makes for an unforgettable character?

An unforgettable character is one I can really relate to and commiserate with. They don’t have to be the heroine or my age or contemporary. They just have to feel real to me both in actions and words.

Have you ever offered representation to someone from a contest final?

No. Not yet. :)

Well, thank you so much for answering these questions for us today, Melissa. Your insight is much appreicated!