Friday, January 31, 2014

Romance Writers of America in San Antonio!!

I love writing conferences! They are an awesome place to meet other writers, editors, agents, and of course, bartenders. I mean, let's face it: it ain't a conference if there ain't a bar. The best deals in the world are made over a vodka martini!

But I digress.

Writing conferences can benefit a writer by providing far more than mere alcohol. That's why I'm excited that Romance Writers of America's annual conference will be in San Antonio this year. That's my home town, baby! I can't wait to go hang out on the Riverwalk with all the other romantic literary types and pick their brains about their skills!

Need more details for yourself? Check out RWA's link: RWA

See you there!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lifetime's Flowers in the Attic: Blooming or Withering?

I adored V.C. Andrews as a child. Absolutely could not get enough of her! I remember spending countless nights under the covers with a flashlight reading the book my mother swore I should never read: Flowers in the Attic. Of course, the more she protested, the more determind I was to get my hands on a copy. And once I did....well...

I think that's when I actually fell in love with the world of romance writing.

Not that Flowers in the Attic is the best example of writing! It is a bit clunky in spots and the dialogue at times is a little stiff, but let's face it! It's one of those novels that is so bad you just have to keep reading.  And reading. And reading.

I know I read all of the sequels and the prequel and then jumped right into the Heaven series.

When the first movie came out back in the late '80s, I was so excited. And then so disappointed. That sucker was awful. It left out all the good stuff, didn't even touch on the romance between Cathy and Christopher, much less show the big scene where stuff goes down between them. They changed the ending and the acting--ugh, I could go on and on about that.

Lifetime aired a remake of Flowers in the Attic this past weekend and I made sure to tune in. The previews hinted that this was going to be much closer to the original book. I loved the way the previews also tied in the artwork from the series, too. It made me giddy with anticipation! did the new movie fare in my opinion?

Meh...okay. It was closer to the book. They did leave in the romance, but there was no rape scene. The whole movie felt a bit rushed to me, but then again, they are trying to cram four years or so into a two hour show that includes commercials. I thought everyone looked the part, especially Heather Graham who played Corinne and Ellen Burstyn rocked the Grandmother outfit. Her wig was also a lot cooler than the really crappy one they stuck Cathy in later.

The acting was the problem for me in this version. I didn't feel a ton of chemistry between Cathy and Chris, which is pretty crucial to the story line. I also thought that Heather Graham was oddly stilted in her attempts to be the good mom at the beginning of the movie, but caught her stride as the selfish bitch towards the end. The Grandmother was certainly more sympathetic than she is in the book, but I wonder if that's because they are playing this with the prequel in mind where we learn about the Grandmother's own past. Those two kids that played the twins----poor darlings! They just didn't have much to do!

I know this probably sounds kind of crazy, but I also thought the grandeur of Foxworth Hall wasn't there either. In the book, it's this amazing place that inspires fear and awe. The one in this version looked  like a nice rental place. No fear and awe here.

So did this remake bloom or wither on the vine? It kind of blossomed and then slowly wilted. I watched the whole thing and will probably watch the rumored sequel. Hell, Petals in the Wind has never been made into a movie to my knowledge, and it's one juicy book.  I can't wait to see how they ruin it!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Plotting Out Novels: Do You or Don't You?

I am currently working on a short series of books for one of my all time favorite clients. Due to confidentiality, I can't tell you his name so we will call him...Lamar.

Yeah. Lamar. I like that name. Maybe I'll use it in a future novel...

Anyway, Lamar has a fabulous idea about a series of books and has asked me to write them. The only problem is that he would like me to outline the chapters in each book prior to writing them. Now I say that is a problem, because it's very different from the way I normally work. Not that I can't do it, but it is more difficult for me. I'm grateful that since I have worked on several other projects with Lamar that he tends to be understanding about my temperamental, artistic side and doesn't get freaked out if I have to make changes to the process of writing.

I'm used to having an idea where I can see the beginning and the ending really well. The middle may be murky, but I know it will become more clear as I work. Writing hard and fast is usually the way I accomplish getting the story down.  For me, the story has to go on its own course a while without a lot of prior planning. Then I go back and write a synopsis of what I've done so I can see what works and what doesn't. That's the outlining phase and the part where I can set down more specific details about what else needs to happen or what must become more clear.

This is the way I work best.

Yet, I think as a writer, it's important to be open to change. Who's to say I'm not missing out on a whole new process that could work even better for me?

So, I'm curious, fellow writers. How much plotting do you do prior to actually writing?

Friday, January 10, 2014


What is literotica?

It's a mashup up of literature and erotica, darling! You've seen it done before, of course. Remember when Seth Grahame-Smith ventured on to the scene with his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well, it's like that--only with a bunch of naked people doing all kinds of things they didn't do in the original story...that we know of. (Wink, wink)

I 'm a big fan of William Shakespeare. However, I've always been a bit disappointed by the chicks in his tales. Maybe he had a limited range when it came to personal experience with women--you know how those actors can be--but I feel frustrated when it comes to the character development of a few of his female leads.

I decided to have a little fun with the Bard. Now mind you, I'm not actually retelling his story as Seth Grahame-Smith does. My books are more prequels or sequels than anything else. They refer to incidents or upcoming events in Shakespeare's tales, but with  very sexy twist.

Viola! That is literotica!

And the title of my series? Naughty Shakespeare.

For a sneak peak, feel free to jump over to my website and browse what I have going on: Esmae Browder Website

I would give you a sample now, but I'm afraid Mary Ann would have my head! After all, this is a site intended for all readers and writers.

Have your own favorite kind of literary mashup? By all means, leave me a comment!


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Author and Agent Relationship

I often get asked: Do you have an agent?

Nope. I don't.

However, I think agents can be a valuable resource!

I've really enjoyed being an Indie Author. As a control freak, being able to have final say in all publishing matters appeals to me. Yet, it is a lot of work. That's why I would recommend saying yes to an agent if they want you for a client. In fact, for many authors, getting an agent is the dream!

But I would like to add a word of caution...while I don't have an agent, I am friends with several authors that do or have had agents. The horror stories I've heard about a few (and I stress a few) author/agent relationships is disturbing. Working with someone to sell your book is not a step you want to rush into.

Believe it or not, you may not want to say yes to the agent--or at least not until you are sure they are really a right fit for you. Hopefully, you've done your homework before submitting queries to an agent and you know what kind of genre they represent. Checking them out on the many Preditor/Editor sites out there is a wise idea, too.

But how do you really know if it's going to work out? Hmmm....well, you don't. Once you've got an agent that doesn't mean you get to sit back and twiddle your thumbs. What if your agent isn't doing their job? I mean, they are suppose to be hustling your work into the hands of publishers. Sometimes that process can take just as long as finding an agent and be twice as discouraging!

If you feel that your agent isn't really doing anything to sell your work and you've done all the edits/rewrites they suggested, well....maybe it's time to let them go. After all, it's suppose to be a partnership! You may be an artist with words, but dang it! You're in it to make a buck, too. I know, I know! What if you can't get another agent? Don't be silly. You were good enough to attract this one. You're good enough to attract one who will sell your book.

You must be an advocate for you! If you aren't, no one else will be either.

If you choose to part ways with an agent, be respectful. Be kind. The publishing world is still a relatively small place so don't go burning bridges!

Good luck to you!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Esmae Browder---Literotica Author and One Spicy Lady

I'd like to introduce you to Esmae Browder! She is going to be doing a new Friday blog post every week related to the world of romance writing. I met Esmae a while back and she totally makes me laugh with her insights into the world of writing. Welcome, Esmae!---Mary Ann

O-la-la! I'm thrilled to be here at All Things Writing! I've been stalking the place for a while before I finally decided to take a chance and contact Mary Ann about becoming a regular contributor. One of the things I like about All Things is their willingness to post about all areas of writing. I was particularly drawn to The Nora Formula.

I hope, darling readers, you are ready for my area of expertise--Literotica.

Yes. Literotica! In case you are confused, that's a combo of literary and erotica thrown together. If you are at all familiar with titles like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Sense and Sensibility with Sea Monsters, then you are on to my style. I like to mash up a few literary classics but add a little erotic twist.

My current series is called Naughty Shakespeare. Oh, how I do love the Bard! And since he never wrote very "fleshed out" women, I was inspired to help readers develop a better understanding of some of his most debated about female characters. But more on that in a separate post!

A few details about me:

I am married to a man named Ralph. It's not the most exciting of names, but don't let it fool you. Ralph can be quite a handful and we've been married for almost 10 years. No kiddos have blessed our little family, but we have two delightful little dogs who like to dig in the garbage when we are not looking.

My favorite cocktail is a vodka tonic. Easy on the tonic, heavy on the vodka.

I cannot write unless I have my lipstick on. Somehow that just makes me feel more professional.

I am currently in chats with an agent. Now, I know how Mary Ann feels about agents, but I think I need one. Desperately. The world needs Literotica!

I do believe that writing romance and erotica can be trickier than most people think. Yes. You need a plot. Heaving bosoms and naked members only go so far. And isn't that how it is in real life, too?

I look forward to chatting with you more on Fridays! In the meantime, you can reach me at or drop by my website: Esmae Browder. com.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kensington Publishing Corp. Aquires Lyrical Press!

As a Lyrical Press author, I'm thrilled with the news below! This means Nephilim and any other books I publish with Lyrical will get a wider audience and Kensington Publishing Corp. has a great reputation!--Mary Ann


NEW YORK, NY - Kensington Publishing Corp., one of the foremost commercial independent publishing houses in the United States, announced today that it has acquired the eBook publishing company Lyrical Press.  Beginning in January 2014, Lyrical Press will operate under its current name as a digital-first imprint at Kensington Publishing.  

Steven Zacharius, President and CEO, Kensington Publishing Corp., says, “This deal delivers on Kensington's mission to publish the books that America wants to read and to be the house that talented authors want to call home.  The ability to have a digital imprint that works efficiently like a small independent press is what first attracted me to Lyrical.  With Renee Rocco’s cutting-edge expertise in running a small independent press and Kensington's team of talented professionals, we look forward to building new and existing authors while expanding the titles published under the Lyrical Press imprint.”

The imprint will be overseen by Adam Zacharius, Kensington’s Director of Special Projects and Alternative Media.  Renee Rocco, who founded Lyrical Press in 2007, will be Managing Director of the imprint.  

"When I first founded Lyrical Press, I strove to emulate Kensington’s standard of quality and the company’s dynamic atmosphere,” states Renee Rocco, Managing Director. “As the publishing business evolved, we sought strategies to expand the reach of Lyrical Press and strengthen its foothold in the industry.  The opportunity to now join forces with Kensington, a company I have deeply admired, and become a member of the Kensington team is both an exciting adventure and the realization of a lifelong dream."

The acquisition includes approximately 250 romance, YA and genre fiction titles in the Lyrical Press backlist. Kensington will immediately begin acquiring new titles for Lyrical Press, as well as expanding its publicity, marketing and editorial departments in order to dedicate the resources necessary to supporting and growing the new imprint.  All eBooks published under the Lyrical Press imprint will be DRM-free and books over 60,000 words will be available as print-on-demand editions.  

Founded in 1974, Kensington Publishing Corp. is located in New York City and is known as “America’s Independent Publisher.”  As the foremost independent commercial publishing house in the United
States providing hardcover, trade paperback, mass market and digital releases, Kensington publishes the books that America wants to read.

The house of New York Times bestselling authors including Fern Michaels,  Lisa Jackson, Joanne Fluke, William W. Johnstone and many others, Kensington publishes over 500 fiction and non-fiction titles each year. Its diverse imprints including Zebra Books, Brava, Citadel Press, Dafina, Pinnacle Books, Aphrodisia, K-Teen, eKensington and Lyrical Press are well-known for providing readers with a range of popular genres such as romance, women’s fiction, African American, young adult and nonfiction, as well as true crime, Western, and mystery titles.

With 2014 marking its 40th anniversary, Kensington remains family owned and operated. It is the only major US publisher to have had three generations serve the company since its founding by the late Walter Zacharius. Currently Steven and Adam Zacharius, the second and third generation of the family, lead a talented staff, many of whom have been with the Company for over 20 years.   

Founded in 2007 by Renee Rocco, Lyrical Press offers readers a rich catalog of titles ranging from tender contemporary romances and edgy erotic paranormals, to suspenseful thrillers and shocking science fiction. Authors can expect a personalized publishing experience from Lyrical Press, where the relationship between the author and publisher is understood to be symbiotic. When the authors succeed, the house succeeds.  Readers will find Lyrical Press books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, iTunes, and most other eBook sites including

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Vida Engstrand, Kensington Publishing / / 212.405.1573

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 All Things Writing Resolutions

Ugh...I hate coming up with resolutions. In fact, I just try to avoid doing it because rarely am I successful at keeping them.

But then again...

Actually, in looking back at some of my resolutions for last year, I find that not to be true...I actually did keep a few! I published several books, started a Theatre Arts based publishing imprint, and took on lots of great guest bloggers here at All Things Writings.

That being said, I think I will try a few resolutions for All Things Writing:

1. Keep bringing you posts from various authors on the art of writing.

2. Introduce you to a crazy new blogger that I really like: Esmae Browder.

3. Look for someone to write book reviews full time!

None of those is particularly earth shattering, but maybe a resolution doesn't have to be. I've always felt that you should set attainable goals. For those of you looking for a few simple ones in regards to your writing habits, here's a few that might interest you.

1. Set a writing schedule and stick to it.

2. Send out five queries to agents a month.

3. Once a week, write something that is just for the fun of writing---keep it separate from any project you are working on.

4. Look into giving a class on the topic of writing.

5. Attend a class about writing or go to a writing conference.

Tell me about some of your writing resolutions!