Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Review...

I found the first review for Pride & Passion today. Single Titles says ::

"Pride and Passion is a beautiful read with each character evolving and having
to address their pride as the story progresses. Jenna Bayley-Burke brilliantly
entertains the reader with this romantic love story. Enjoyed immensely."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CJ Redwine's 40 Step-Guide to Query Writing

A writing friend nudged me toward this post the other day and I loved it so much I decided to declare today CJ Redwine Day.

Oh, it's already St. Patrick's Day? Hmmm...OK, substitute whiskey for gin in CJ's How to Write a Query in 40 Simple Steps ::

A query is the one-page letter you send to agents and publishers pitching your novel.

1. Pour yourself a small glass of gin & tonic.
2. Sip slowly, savoring the taste, as you carefully list your novel's main characters and conflicts.
3. Struggle to label your work with the appropriate genre.
4. Pour more gin and tonic to boost brain power.
5. Craft a first sentence that both grabs the reader's attention and conveys the essence of your novel.
6. Re-read first sentence.
7. Acknowledge that first sentence is absolute crap and delete the entire thing.
8. Pour more gin and tonic, minus the tonic.
9. Skip first sentence and dive into character descriptions.
10. Re-read character descriptions.
11. Acknowledge that character descriptions cannot be three paragraphs each and delete all but a few sentences.
12. Drain gin bottle.
13. Toss in a few sentences describing the conflict.
14. Re-read sentences describing conflict.
15. Acknowledge that the conflict sounds rather weak.
16. Toss in a conflict that isn't actually in the novel but could be, if the agent asks for a partial.
17. Wander to the kitchen for more gin.
18. Wonder what idiot put that wall in your way.
19. Return to desk.
20. Re-read query.
21. Drink two swallows of gin straight from the bottle.
22. Decide that "I have a fiction novel that totally kicks Dean Koontz's sorry keister" is an acceptable first sentence.
23. Study the problem of deciding on a genre.
24. Take a few swallows of gin for fortification.
25. Realize you now see two keyboards on your desk instead of one. Choose which one to use.
26. Type madly for thirty seconds before realizing you are simply banging on your desk.
27. Swallow some gin and choose the other keyboard.
28. Decide that literary-paranormal-romantic-suspense-thriller-with-historical-sci-fi-elements is an acceptable genre for your novel.
29. Re-read query.
30. Insert adverbs generously and prolifically throughout to spice up the prose.
31. Print.
32. Spend five minutes cursing the foul beast of a computer for refusing such a simple request.
33. Turn printer on.
34. Print.
35. Sign name.
36. Realize you've misspelled your name.
37. Curse the gin.
38. Apologize to the gin.
39. Re-print, re-sign, seal in an envelope.
40. Send query.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Chapter One...isn't.

I'm still tinkering with Shattered Expectations. The synopsis helped highlight the big picture issues...and I've realized that I started to story too late. I tend to write my way into a story and I think I overcorrected. But, even though I know exactly what should happen in this new first scene...I can't seem to write it.

This happens to me too often. I have an idea, I work it out, and then...I know what happens so I have no desire to get the words down. Maybe I have to bribe myself. No Farmville until I have the scene down...egad.

Monday, March 15, 2010


When I was a kid, you couldn't get away from tadpoles. Now, maybe this is because my grandpa had a cattle ranch with a creek running through it and there were lots of places where the water pooled in the spring. My brothers never had to search to get a fishbowl full of tadpoles. We'd even find them in the corner of our lot where things didn't drain right. Tadpoles were everywhere.

Now, it seems they are hard to find. Not sure what this means for frogs...though I know the one croaking outside my window is endangered. (HA!) The small boy's 1st grade class needs tadpoles, and the ones you buy from the store haven't hatched for the last two years, so they're not going that route.

At our old house, our neighbor had them in his pond. The boys would keep them in a bucket in the backyard - we even had a raccoon spill the bucket last year! But...we moved. Do you think I could head over to any old pond and scoop some up? Could I call the neighbor and ask if he's cleaned his pond out yet? And how weird is it that I'm hunting tadpoles? VERY weird since they totally gross me out!

Movie Weekend!

It's been a while since I've watched movies, longer still since I've been to a movie theater - I think the last time was pre-PrincessDiva, when I took BabyBoy to see Horton Hears a Who. Finding a chunk of time long enough for a movie is hard, and my kids aren't what people call 'easy', so finding someone willing to watch them for long enough for HubbaBubba and I to escape to see a show...hasn't happened since My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

So this weekend the Cub Scouts moved their air museum trip and the minivan needed some TLC, so we found ourselves with a free weekend at home! That hasn't happened in about a year, so it was strange! But I managed to get in 3 movies.

I watched Bedtime Stories with the kids, which is fantastic and they loved it. We found Star Wars 2 Clone Wars on TV...and I started to get troubled. I watched it with BigBoy who has read the entire middle grade Star Wars series. So he knew everything about the story...and there are some serious themes going on! It gave us lots of opportunities to talk about them, but it also made me want to search for more stories for him with younger themes. He has a lifetime to read the deep stuff, let's let him read about farts and burps for a while longer...

I managed to get in Bride Wars too! I love chick flicks and this was much fun. Only a little sad. Great characterisation. It made me want to see more movies...but Spring Break starts on Thursday and wowza, do my boys have plans!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

10th Annual Romance Readers Luncheon sponsored by Rose City Romance Writers

The Rose City Romance Writers are proud to host the 10th Annual Romance Readers Luncheon on Saturday, April 17, 2010 from 9 am to 2 pm. This year's guest speaker is bestselling author of classic romance and modern women's fiction, Jane Porter. Jane's presentation, entitled Be The Hero of Your Own Story, is sure to inspire.

Join Us at the Governor Hotel in Portland for good food, great romance authors, and a gift basket raffle like none other. 2010 Cost: $40.00

Some of the authors attending include :
•Amanda Forester
•Anthea Lawson
•Catherine Cade
•Christina Crooks
•Christine Young
•Courtney Milan
•Delilah Marvelle
•Eilis Flynn
•Elisabeth Naughton
•Erica Ridley
•Genene Valleau
•Gerri Russell
•Gina Robinson
•Hanna Rhys-Barnes
•Jami Davenport
•Jean Johnson
•Jenna Bayley-Burke
•Jessa Slade
•Kimberly Fisk
•Kristina McMorris
•Kaylin McFarren
•Lacy Danes
•Linda Wisdom
•Lisa Hendrix
•Lucy Monroe
•Maisey Yates
•Margaret Mallory
•Marianne Stillings
•Mary Vine
•Meljean Brook
•Minnette Meador
•PJ Alderman
•Paty Jager
•Terri Reed
•Terry MacLaughlin
•Theresa Meyers
•Wendy Warren

Sound like fun? Register Now!

For more information, please check out the Rose City Romance Writers website.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Everything You Need To Know About Storytelling...You Can Learn From Your Kids?

I've been taking some great high-level writing workshops lately. Margie Lawson, Bob Mayer, Michael Hague...I mean, top-notch stuff! And yet today I think I had a major aha moment!!

The boys wanted to watch Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler - a cute movie about what happens when your dreams come true. Listening to the kids in the story talk about happy endings and how stories 'work' was eye opening. It was perfect it its simplicity. And then at the end, the 'hero' is told that the journey is not over simply because it seems all is lost. I is textbook hero's journey.

And then I was reading to Princess Diva - The Plot Chickens. It is storytelling basics...for kids! Start with a character, give them a problem, make them solve the problem (not their mother hen!) was great.

When people learn what I do, they often ask what they should do to get started - after all, 90% of the population wants to write a book. I think it's more like 99% in the mommy set I tend to hang with. I now have a response handy!

Everything you really need to know about storytelling, you can learn by watching movies with and reading to your kiddos!

Friday, March 12, 2010

So...I play Farmville...

I haven't been doing as much fun blogging as I used to. It used to be whenever something popped into my head, I woud blog about it...and I would blogsurf when I was bored. Now...I Farmville.

It's this crazy time-suck game that my kids wouldn't even play. It's simple, it's cutesy...and it's addictive! So much so my neighbor gave it up for Lent! Me...I'm collecting gold and building a Maison. Yep, Farmville's gone French countryside.

I can play it in two minute increments, and it is SO organized. I think that is the real draw for me. It's neat and logical...while life with the man and kids is just not. So, there may be books and magazines and homework and colring books and cookbooks and fruit and science experiements and art projects on my kitchen table...but my Farmville farm is clean!

Any idea how to get off the Farmville sauce? Because I keep checking my chickens...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Synopses Don't ALWAYS Suck

Yes, you read that right. I, um, found a use for a synopsis. I can't talk badly about them anymore.

I've always been a panster, making things up as I go, but I've been stalled out on Shattered Expectations since...December. It's been trickling in, but there's no real momentum.

So, I wrote the synopsis and had a bit of an epiphany...the story is over. I was trying to make the story arc longer than the emotional arc...which wasn't working. Without emotion, the story had no momentum. to revise it so that it can end where the emotional arc ends, without any loose strings to tie up.

Yes, I learned that synopses can be useful. If only I'd figured that out 4 months ago! Here's hoping it actually gets me to write a synopsis before writing the book...well, at least halfway through!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Pride & Passion by Jenna Bayley-Burke

Jenna Bayley-Burke
contemporary romance

He’ll let her have control…until he’s ready to make his move.

The only things Lily Harris inherits after her father’s untimely death are debt, scandal and loneliness. She doesn’t protest when her father’s business partner, Jake Tolliver, steps up to help with the mess she finds herself in—until Jake reveals the last promise he made to her father.

Jake may be as compelling to look at as a marble statue—and stir a frighteningly powerful desire within her—but no way will Lily agree to be his socially acceptable bride while he continues to bed his string of beautiful women—not without getting him to agree to a deal of her own first.

With a well-earned reputation as a feral hunter who goes after what he wants, Jake has his sights set on Lily, and her lack of options puts her right where he’s wanted her from the first moment he laid eyes on her.

Jake’s not above making Lily think she’s having it her way if that’s what it’ll take to have his way in the end. But once he grows tired of playing beast to her beauty, he’s not above changing the rules of the game until they’re both playing for the same prize.

Warning : This title contains a hero used to getting what he wants, a heroine determined not to give in to him, some indecent proposals, a fair amount of pride, and enough passion to burn up everyone’s control.

Read an excerpt from Samhain

Read an excerpt from Books on Board

Exclusive Blog excerpt

Monday, March 08, 2010

Pride & Passion available NOW!

Happy release day to me! Pride & Passion is out in ebook formats today. Thank you so much to everyone who read along as I crafted this story.

I wrote this book under the deadline of the impending arrival of my little diva. Trish Wylie & I were both writing new stories, so we did some word-wars in the beginning. At the end, I tried not to let the baby brain get the best of me. Luckily, I was being very good about my blogging, so the whole thing is pretty much chronicled in the April 2008 archives. You can even check out my Point & Click Character Charts for Jake Tolliver & Lily Harris.

I finished the story, had the baby...and then came back to it a few months later for the edit. It was quite the experience to set a book aside and come back to it with a new head space. I managed to work in even more Jane Austen asides :) It was a little sad for me to see the title change from the Austenesque First Impressions to Pride & Passion...but I have to admit, the steam level in this story probably needs some kind of warning ;)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Well Lookie Here...

Guess who has an excerpt on Tawny Taylor's Sassitude blog to help celebrate ebook week? That would be me...with Pride & Passion. Only a couple more days and it will be released :D

Friday, March 05, 2010

Fast Word Count Fixes

Writers obsess about word count. Many of our publishers have word count limits - both high and low. Being too wordy makes for a hard read, and no one likes that. What follows are a few phrases that can be pared down to make room for better word choices ::

bit down -> bit
lifted up -> lifted
stood up -> stood
in between -> between

go & destroy.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Pride & Passion Blog Exclusive Excerpt

Lily closed her bedroom door behind her and slumped against it, flipping the lock with a flick of her wrist. When she was alone with Jake Tolliver, sometimes she forgot who he was. Lucky for her, he had no problem showing his true colors.

He was a perfect match for the hard edges and biting remarks of Dee Gibson. They deserved each other. So why was she shaking because she’d caught sight of Dee’s arms around Jake in the foyer?

She refused to think about it. She’d done what she had to tonight. She’d held her tongue, buried her pride and let Dee turn the heat up under Jake. Hopefully it was enough to have him rethinking his marriage demand. She couldn’t live in a relationship like this. Not without homicide being an option.

Lily pushed off the door, crossed her room and then pulled back the painting over her wall safe. She worked the combination with ease and slid out her jewelry case.

She had no intention of keeping the beautiful necklace from Jake, but she thought something so lovely should be treasured and protected until she could return it. She set the box on top of her vanity, right next to the colorful bouquet of lilies.

Being near him was the worst kind of emotional torture. Such a dichotomy of what she craved and what she loathed. She flipped open the lid of the box, noticing how the jewels glittered in the light.

A thought skittered across her mind. She could sell everything in the box and probably have enough money to be rid of Jake, to finish school and stay in an apartment until she could secure a teaching position. She could, except how much were her mother’s pearls worth? She fingered the strand, wondering if anyone would care that the pink pearls were one of the few things she could remember her mother wearing. Eventually she could buy herself another diamond tennis bracelet, but it wouldn’t be the one her father had gotten her for her high-school graduation.

She pursed her lips and blinked away the hot tears as she reached behind her and undid the clasp of Jake’s necklace. She dropped it in the box, refusing to look at it as she removed her diamond teardrop earrings. College graduation from Dad.

It was stupid jewelry. Just things. She slammed the lid closed and shoved the box back in the safe, closing it quickly. They might be things, but they were tangible pieces of her memories.

What was it Jake said? Memories live in your heart? What if it was broken? Might all the memories spill out with your tears?

Lily choked on a sob as she walked into her closet and shed her dress, leaving it in a pile on the floor. She didn’t want it anymore, didn’t want anything to remind her of how she’d felt while sitting at a table with Jake and his lover. She slipped on a nightgown and turned off the light. She stood at the window, staring at the dark night. Dee’s car was gone, which gave her some modicum of relief. She wouldn’t have to think about them together in the house. At least if he slept with Dee tonight, he had the decency to do it elsewhere.

She sunk down onto her bed and pressed her palms against her damp eyes, trying to stem the flow. Maybe she was as stupid as everyone thought. She was jealous of a woman she never wanted to be, wanted a man she could never actually have.

“Lily?” Jake’s whisper drifted through the door and straightened her spine.

She listened and waited for him to try the handle, but he didn’t. Instead, she heard his retreating footsteps. The darkness and silence must have been enough to convince him she’d fallen asleep. If only it would be so easy to convince him she still hated him.

Pride and Passion
Copyright © 2010 by Jenna Bayley-Burke