Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Message to New Writers with Guest Blogger Donica Covey

The Book Boost welcomes author Donica Covey to the blog with advice for new authors.

Here's what she had to say...

I love getting emails from people, especially new authors just trying to break into the business. They all ask the same questions: How do I write a book that sells? My answer: Luck and talent and lots of patience!

New writers, those just trying out their wings for the first time often make the same mistakes. These mistakes are some of the same ones I’ve been known to make: writing for the market. What I mean is that people, especially new writers are so gung ho to see their names in print they look at the trends in the market and try to force themselves to write a book that fits.

This is an oft times deadly mistake. The stories come out stilted, they come out jarring and forced. A book that is forced out reads as if it were forced out. Like I said, I still fall into this trap myself. As an example: Steam Punk is VERY in right now. I dig Steam Punk I love watching movies that have that feel (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing excellent flicks).

But alas I can’t write one. I have tried to come up with something and everything I’ve picked up and eventually discarded because it sucked. It’s not my forte. Not my niche.

What you must do is rather than write for the market trend, write the book that you LOVE. The one that comes from your heart. It may take it a while to sell if it’s a genre that’s slow right now, but honestly, a book that is forced is not going to sell at all. Editors, readers, all can tell when your heart isn’t in it.

Another common trap is some writers are so desperate to publish they glom onto the first house they see. A new house, one that hasn’t been long established can go one of two ways—either they are going to skyrocket into the Internet-sphere or they’re going to crash and burn, taking you along with it.

When looking into publishing houses you have to dig deep. How long have they been in business? What is the quality of the books they publish? Best thing to know how professional they are: ask the writers who are with the house. Most authors I know are more than happy to answer questions. Having been on the skyrocket as well as the crash and burn I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Lessons that were learned the hard way. I’ve watched two publishing houses fold—it’s not fun. I should’ve listened to the advice I’m giving—advice I received.

1. Polish your grammar and spelling skills

2. Write from the heart. Write what you love reading, what stirs your passions

3. Polish the manuscript to within an inch of its life, then polish it one last time

4. Investigate the publisher. Read up on what they publish, how their business works.

5. Talk to the authors from your chosen house. Ask questions like are you happy with this house? Do you have the latitude to give your input? Is it taken seriously? Is this a cohesive group? Is it positive dynamic? Do you see improvement in your writing since you’ve been with this house? If you could change one thing about the publisher what would it be? Is there ample communication with the powers that be? Are they happy with the distribution? Is the atmosphere among the group a happy, positive place?

6. Be patient. Submissions can take weeks—long, hard, nail biting, agonizing—weeks to be read, tossed to beta readers to be re-read. It’s a process that can’t and shouldn’t be rushed.

7. Be positive. Even if the house you WANTED to publish your work rejects you, don’t go painting them with a nasty brush. You may KNOW that your book is fantastic the editor is an idiot for not seeing the gem you sent to her. But keep those feelings to yourself, or private with your best friend. But don’t shout it to the entire Internet how stupid you think XYZ is because you’re a kick as writer and they don’t have the sense God gave a goose to know a great book when they see it. Nothing on the Internet is sacred. The editor can hear about it and then you’ve shot yourself in the foot.

8. Work with a critique group or at least a crit partner. Make sure you trust the person you’re working with (this is a biggie. You have to trust the person to open and honest). Then, listen to the advice—this is another tricky area because it is YOUR book. Don’t let the CP rewrite your work completely but if it fills in plot holes, cleans up the grammar, rewords it in a sentence in a stronger fashion—you get the idea.

9. Once you’ve made the sale you DO need to set up a website, a blog, and other social networking sites.. The more you can do to make yourself visible, the better.

10. It is never too early to promote your work. A friend of mine began her promotion for a book 6 months before it was released. When the book came out, it sold over 200 copies in the first month.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for sharing your tips with new authors. Enjoyed having you at the Boost today. Please tell us more about your book!


When all hell breaks loose, you know the honeymoons over--sometimes life’s a bitch…

Agent Mickey Flannery is finally going to take his wife Terese on the honeymoon they missed five years ago. The plans are made, the plane is landed and they arrive to the news they’ve been chosen for an upgraded holiday—a week on a private island all amenities included.

The private beach soon turns into paradise lost when they learn their gracious host is none other than Rafael Lesandro Rivera, Ramiro’s son, and he’s out for blood.

Can Mickey keep Terese and himself alive long enough to find a way of escaping the man who them join his hunting party—as the prey?


Mickey rolled on his side and watched Terese standing on the balcony overlooking the private garden. She wore one of his t-shirts, the hem reached to the middle of her luscious thighs. He pushed up, grabbed his boxers then padded out to join her. The warm gentle breeze ruffled the vegetation and carried the scent of his woman to him. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his chin on the top of her head. “What are you thinking about?”

She shivered slightly in his embrace.

“Are you cold?” In this heat?

“There’s something on the wind,” she mumbled ominously.

Her tone made the hair on the back of his neck prickle. “What kind of something?”

“I don’t know.” She shook her head, breaking free of the strange spell she seemed to be under.

“It’s nothing.”

“When you feel like there’s something off, there’s something off.”

She pulled away. “It’s nothing.” She lifted up on her tiptoes and pressed a warm kiss to his lips.

“Let’s just enjoy this.” She went back into the room and began to change her clothes.

Unease flooded Mickey. There were very few things he was certain of. One of them was his wife’s intuition. If she thought there was an ill wind brewing then he could make book on it.

He turned and followed her back inside. “Terese…”

She raised a hand to cut him off. “Smell that? It smells delicious.”

The scent of dinner tantalized the air and Mickey’s stomach gave a low rumble. “It does at that.”

He quickly tossed on his jeans and shirt then took her hand and led her down the stairs. “You’d think with all the money invested in this place they’d put in an elevator.”

“And ruin it? No way.”

Timms met them at the main floor. “Mr. and Mrs. Flannery, I’m pleased to see you have arrived for dinner. If you will follow me to the dining room.”

They trailed him down the marbled hallway and into a large room. A rose mahogany dining table filled the center of the room. A large crystal candelabrum graced the center of the table with fresh hibiscus and roses arranged in crystal vases.

Three settings of bone china, gilt-edged with gold, sat spread out on the table. Three? “There’s been a mistake.”

“No mistake, Señor Flannery. I have decided to join you.” The richly cultured Hispanic accent had Mickey spinning around.

He faced a Latino man standing in the doorway, casually leaning on the doorframe. “I beg your pardon?” Tiny tingles of alarm splintered though him. Mickey stepped close to Terese then slightly pushed her behind him, shielding her from the unknown man.

“My apologies for interfering in your holiday. I had forgotten I’d given my approval for use of my home when I arrived this afternoon. I assure you I will not interrupt any plans you may have. But I did think it would be rude of me not to dine with you this evening.”

Mickey felt the tenseness in Terese’s shoulders but she stepped around him and flashed a smile at their host. “You have a truly magnificent home.”

“Thank you, Señora Flannery. I hope you will feel at home for your visit here.”

Mickey pulled out the chair next to Terese while he kept a watchful eye on their host. “Seems you know us but I don’t think we caught your name.”

“Ah, because I did not toss it, Señor.” He grinned. “My name is Rafael Lesandro.” He swept past them and took his seat at the head of the table.

Mickey began to speak but Rafael cut him off. “I do not live here all the time. This is my summer home.”

“It’s December.”

“Right you are. But, I felt the need to come to a warmer clime to spend the holiday. I had forgotten I had offered this location to Monmouth Lodge. In the morning I will make other arrangements then I will leave you to your private Celebración de Navidad.”

The room grew quiet. Rafael’s presence set him on edge.

The first course meal was brought in. Leafy green spinach salad with small chunks of pineapple, mango, and papaya added a festive color palette to the fine china bowls. They were sprinkled with shaved coconut and drizzled with lemon-poppy seed vinaigrette.

Mickey eyed the plate skeptically. This is ridiculous. He was in agent mode again but he couldn’t make it stop. Something was just not right in all this.

“Excellent,” Rafael enthused, then looked at him. “Is there something wrong with your salad?”

Mickey lifted the gold plated salad fork then took a bite. It was a pleasantly tangy-sweet sensation. He forced himself to relax and enjoy the meal.

“It’s delicious.” Terese took another bite.

The main course was served shortly after the salad accoutrements had been removed. The roasted ham had been basted with pineapple juice and brown sugar. Despite the unease Mickey tried to keep forced down, he had to admit he enjoyed the meal. The traditional tropical beverages had gone down smoothly.

“Shall we adjourn to the parlor?” Rafael rose and walked around the table.

Terese stood on wobbly legs. “Boy, these hit you easy don’t they?” She giggled as she put her mai tai glass on the table.

Mickey reached out a hand to steady her. “Are you all right?” he leaned in to whisper in her ear.

“I’m fine. That drink was a little stronger than I expected, is all.”

Mickey’s head felt a bit light as they followed Rafael to his parlor. He eased Terese into the cushioned settee then sat next to her. The room spun slightly off kilter. Terese seemed to be having trouble sitting up. Through dullness spreading in his mind, it registered. They’d been drugged. “What did you do?” he asked, trying to focus in the direction of their host.

“Do? Nothing. Yet.”

Mickey struggled against the fog creeping into his mind.

Rafael moved close to them then he reached out to caress Terese’s face. Mickey drunkenly punched at Rafael but only succeeded in swiping empty air. “Keep away from her,” he ordered but the words were slurred.

Through a haze, he watched Rafael pick up Terese and carry her across the room. She was completely limp and at the man’s utter mercy. He positioned her on his lap and wrapped his arms around her. His fingers traced through her hair and skimmed along her chest. The hand slipped under Terese’s top and pulled it down to expose a breast.

Rage rocketed through him, but Mickey couldn’t focus. “Leave her alone!” he shouted feebly.

She uttered a small moan and arched against the man’s hand.

“She really is a prize among women. Such a seductive, sensual woman.” The ugly sneer added to the ghoulish tilt to Rafael’s face. “Do you feel helpless? I am sure my father did right before he was murdered by your friends.”

The words formed in colors swirling in Mickey’s mind. Father. Helpless. Friends. “What are you talking about?”

The room darkened at the edges of Mickey’s vision but he could still make out the shadowed figure holding Terese. “My father, Ramiro Rivera.”

It was the last thing Mickey heard before the world went completely black.

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