Mar 30, 2012

Writing Way Outside The Box - Contest Entry

Writing Way Outside The Box
Julie Eberhart Painter

Editors and agents frequently ask what makes this book/story different? Why should we invest time and money in seeing it to print?

The criteria has to be that the story is either a familiar theme from a unique perspective, or it’s really off the wall, another reason for instant appeal or instant rejection. Despite the outside the box style, it has to make sense to readers.

Several examples come to mind. One is a new TV show called Awake. This is a story about complicated grief, something I saw in bereavement groups when I volunteered as a counselor’s co-facilitator with hospice. When guilt (He was driving the car when it crashed.) is mixed with extreme loss, the grieving can produce an extrasensory reaction like the one being portrayed in Awake. The man who suffers the loss of either his wife or his son is seeing two psychiatrists. Each is trying to sort out why he is living—either asleep or awake—two lives, one with his wife and one with his son. It's obvious he is grieving and in extreme (dramatic) denial. By keeping them both alive, but mourning one and then other he honors them both.

Another story with an unusual perspective is, Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante, who wrote the entire book from the point of view of Jennifer, an Alzheimer’s patient who may or may not have murdered her best friend. One reviewer called it a diary of a disease, but it’s also a murder mystery. The mystery is the linear backstory while the rest is the fragmented and confused thoughts of the patient as she sinks deeper into dementia still trying to remember what happened the night her best friend died.

The Lovely Bones and The Sixth Sense movies are two other examples of unique formatting and unusual points of view.

When choosing a way to tell any story, it must come from the most visceral place, the heart of the character with the most to lose. If the authors mentioned above had chosen an outside narrator, the stories would have been reduced to journalism.

Using the material from research as a linear back story, the writer should put his or herself into the main characters’ heads, starting with their first awareness that something is off.  Writers need passion and patience to wander through an experience as if never having seen it or felt it before. That sense of marvel brings the story to life.

It's the feelings that sell the book. LaPlante's book is totally un-linear, except for carrying the plot time line by using the female detective’s unannounced visits to search out the truth. Could a woman with advanced Alzheimer’s have murdered her best friend? Now that’s off the wall and out of the box.

Julie Eberhart Painter is the author of seven books. Her champagne books include Mortal Coil, Tangled Web and the CTRR award-winning Kill Fee. Author website at:

Julie Eberhart Painter's Books

Mar 29, 2012

Out of the Box, Forever! - Contest Entry

Rolynn Anderson

Truth is, I’m not sure what it feels like to be ‘in’ a box…all my life I’ve roamed outside the cardboard confines.  In fact, I was hired to open a brand new out-of-the-box high school, to become the first female principal in a big conservative school district.  Oh boy, do I have stories to tell about that experience!

I spend four months out of the year on our trawler exploring the Northwest’s Inside Passage with my DH.  Knots of stories on those cruises-very OOTB!

I ‘became’ a writer in 2001.  Published by the famous Wild Rose Press in 2011.  Soon to be published by TWRP for the second time in 2012.  Will self-publish in 2012.  Eight more novels ready for prime time.  Still climbing all around the box.

But let me tell you some specific out-of-the-box experiences with my first published novel, LAST RESORT.  Here’s the OOTB list:

1.  Never wrote a thriller…LAST RESORT is one.

2.  Hadn’t used more than three POV’s…LAST RESORT has five!

3.  Wanted to add a non-hibernating grizzly to my British Columbia setting…my research (and a cool story about grizzlies that swim long distances) told me I could.

4.  Thought I couldn’t show a sympathetic side of a terrorist…readers tell me I did.

5.  Heard a rumor in Big Bay, B.C. that helicopters were taking a TV crew back and forth from a B.C. resort to the Olympic Games in Whistler.  Worked that rumor into a truth and a framework for a terrorist event.

6.  Didn’t know anything about helicopters…now I do.

7.  Wanted a punk party girl in my novel…got my nieces and nephews to help me build her language.

8.  Canadian and American undercover intelligence agencies working together?  How in the world would that happen?  Found out.  Made it happen.

9.  What does a corporate fixer do?  Learned about the career…made up the rest.  My heroine is fabulous at her job!

10.  Thought about selling LAST RESORT in marinas surrounding the  real-life setting for my novel.  Marina managers bought dozens of my novels and sold them to boaters cruising up and down the Inside Passage.  Want a ‘no way’ shiver up your spine?  A Big Bay marina manager I pitched to…runs a small fishing camp called…LAST RESORT!  Here’s another coincidence goose-bumper...she met and married a fishing guide, just like my heroine!

Can’t wait to hear all the OOTB experiences from my writing buddies.  We stand together on seeing and crafting worlds in new ways!

LAST RESORT on sale now, print & download
Wild Rose Press:

Rolynn Anderson is a retired Washington State high school principal (and English teacher) who now spends four months on her  trawler, INTREPID, cruising up and down the Inside Passage to Alaska, and the other eight months on the Central Coast of California.  

The Last Resort

Mar 1, 2012

An Interview with Shashauna P. Thomas

Deck the Halls. 
Join us today in welcoming the talented Shashauna P. Thomas as we interview her about her writing!

Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they? (Please include the cover so we can post it as well.)
I’ve had a number of short stories published, but it wasn’t until recently that I had my first two manuscripts published.  It is with great pride that I introduce my latest books Deck the Halls and Christmas Do-Over.

In Deck the Halls: 
Jake and Jason are identical twins who’ve known for a long time that there would only be one woman for the both of them. One who loved each of them equally and could handle both the pros and cons of being shared by two men on a daily basis. As soon as they laid eyes on the beautiful new file clerk Gloria they knew deep in their heart that she was the one meant to be theirs. They thought their only obstacle was to convince her that their feelings were genuine. Quickly they learn they’re mistaken when they find out the lovely Gloria’s been keeping a major secret. One that not only jeopardizes the future they planned to share with her, but also places her very life in danger.
Gloria found it hard not to have a positive outlook when she got to see the delicious Jason and delectable Jake every day. On top of that the merriment of the season all around her was infectious. It was the first Christmas in a long time that Gloria was actually looking forward to. That is until she learns the mistakes of her past, ones she tried very hard to put behind her and bury, were now back. Back with a vengeance and determined to destroy her. Now all she hoped for Christmas was that the people she’d grown to love wouldn’t get caught in the crossfire.

In Christmas Do-over:
Alone from an earlier age, Julian McGee hates the holidays. This one is shaping up to be the worst yet. Stuck between a rock and hard place, Julian drowns his sorrow in his favorite pub. In order to keep a roof over his head, he may have to take on a job he doesn't want—something worse than anything he's done.
All hope seems lost when a beautiful redhead arrives and expresses an interest in Julian. Their instant attraction spurs him into taking the lovely nymph home for a night of passion.
His Christmas angel reveals they didn't meet by accident. The hot, mysterious, woman came specifically to meet Julian and dangles a tantalizing proposition in front of him.
Something that will change his life forever and make the Christmas season one he'll never forget.
Christmas Do Over

Though both are erotic Christmas themed novellas; Deck the Halls is a contemporary ménage romance while Christmas Do-Over is a contemporary sci-fi romance.

What can we expect from you in the future?
With a number of memorable characters and romantic tales floating around in my head you can expect to see many more erotic tales.  The overall themes may vary: BDSM, Sci-fi, futuristic, contemporary, historical, m/f, f/f, m/f/m, m/f/f, but all will be memorable. What I do look forward to is finally finishing some of the longer books I’ve been working on and seeing them published.  There are also some story lines that would make up a book series.  To have a book series of mine published for the entire world to enjoy is an accomplishment I’ve dreamt about since I first began writing full time.

How do we find out about you and your books?
For more information on me and all of my published works, books and short stories, you can check out my website  You can also check out my professional facebook page  And on a Romance authors and books forum she maintains a topic stream that she updates with info on her published works

Why did you decide to write romance novels?
Everyone loves a good love story.  I’ve loved romance novels since I was a little girl.  Of course the heat levels of my preferred romances rose as I grew older.  Two, or more, coming together and making lasting connections and living happily ever after. When I first sat down to try and write a story of my own what began to flow out of me was a romance which really wasn’t a surprise to me nor anyone who knew me.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I think a lot of my personality traits can often be found in the characters from my stories, but they’re mostly found in the supportive characters.  A few of my traits are found sprinkled in here and there with the main characters, but mostly they’re found in the character that always seems to have the hero or heroine’s back.  Their best friend, co-worker, or confidant.  As for my life experiences, they’re a lot more limited than one would think.  A lot of the places, settings, and situations that are found in my stories are pure imagination.  An author’s wishful thinking of how it would be to visit new places, find themselves in new situations, and meeting new exciting people.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I started writing poems when I was younger.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college did I write my first story.  A sorority sister of mine who knew I enjoyed creative writing forwarded me an e-mail from Erotic Author Zane’s mailing list promoting the open call submissions Strehbor books was holding.  A couple of the open calls inspired my creativity so I ended up creating four short story erotic romances and submitted them.  While working on my stories something inside me just clicked and I knew for certain that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  This was not only the perfect career for me it was the only career for me.  Out of the four I submitted one was chosen and that was when I knew for sure this was what I was meant to do.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Writing a short novella it takes around a month. Of course that is if other things don’t get in the way.  Like other writing commitments, promotion, and of course dealing with day to day tasks that love to distract an author from working on their projects.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
Though I wished I had a set schedule, no matter how hard I try to set one in the end I usually just go with the flow.  I try to focus on one project at a time and once I finish it I move on to another task and don’t come back to the previous one unless I have to review and rework it with an editor.  There never seems to be enough time in the day to complete everything you want or need to.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
When I need a break from writing I watch movies, or listen to music.  But when I really need a break I sit down and read like there is no tomorrow.  I run though books like they’re water and I just came from a dessert.  Getting lost in the worlds created by other authors is a great way to get out of my own head for a while.
What truly motivates you in general?  In your writing?
There are so many things that motivate me and the things that I do, but one of the most motivating forces in my life is my mother.  She raised me and my brothers to believe in ourselves and to always do our bests.  She always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to.  All the love and support she gave me when she was alive still resonates strongly with me today.  So much so that I swear I hear her voice in my head encouraging me to keep fighting, keep working hard, and to keep my head up in face of adversity.  Everything that I am today is because of her and I live every day to the fullest in her honor.
What motivates my writing is my belief in myself, my belief in the stories and characters I create, and seeing the finished product.  Sitting back and looking at the collection of my published works all together makes me very proud at what I accomplished and warms my heart when I think about these works out there in the world for everyone to read and enjoy.  Not to mention the thought that my works will still be out there for people to enjoy long after I’ve gone motivates me as I feel like I’ve made my mark upon the world.
How do you come up with ideas?
Sometimes I get inspiration from the most random place like a TV show, or a commercial, or a conversation I had with friends, but most of the time my ideas come to me randomly while I am writing another story.  I’ll be focused on that manuscript and it’ll be on my mind when I go to sleep, but when I awake the next morning I’ll momentarily see a new character or scene.  Something that has nothing to do with what I’m currently working on but they catch my attention and cause my imagination to begin working overtime. Those flashes will inspire another manuscript that I can’t wait to write.

Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?
Absolutely.  Humor not only makes the characters more realistic, but I feel it helps readers identify and connect with them.  Not to mention everyone needs a good laugh from time to time.  Taking life too seriously helps no one.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
Considering I’m an erotic romance writer I think love scenes are essential to my stories.  Writing them isn’t hard at all. The only hard part is wondering if I’ve been descriptive enough or too descriptive. Knowing what the perfect balance is always different in each story.

Fill in the blank favorites - Dessert. City. Season. Type of hero. Type of heroine.
Favorite Dessert – Strawberry Ice-cream
Favorite Season – Summer
Bondage by the Bay
Favorite Type of Hero – A combination of the strong silent type, dark and mysterious, sensual, and passionate.  A little cocky and a little dangerous but one hundred and ten percent devoted to the one they love. Not to mention high sex drive both in and out of the bedroom.  Adventurous, but has no problem settling down and committing to the one or ones they love.
Favorite Type of Heroine – Smart, sassy, sexy, adventurous, courageous, and strong.  Also completely devoted to the one or ones they love.  Sacrificing when they think it’s what’s best.  Also high sex drive both in and out of the bedroom.

What are some of your favorite things to do?
I love to curl up in bed with a good book and read to my heart’s content.  I also love to listen to music, watch TV, go to the movies, cook, and hang out with friends.

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
One of my favorite authors is Lora Leigh.  And her Breed series are my favorite.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
Lisa Gardner, Steven King, JR Ward, Kate Douglas, Katie MacAlister, Maya Banks, Zane, Cassie Edwards, Lisa Jackson, and Sharon Page.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
I would recommend you read Deck the Halls. I think that is a great representation of the types of stories I love to write and why not start reading my books with the first one I had published.  Start from the beginning.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
The characters always come first, then the story, and then the overall setting.

Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
I’d say the characters have more control over me and what I write than I have over them.  I see them clearly in my head and then I try my best to write what I see the best that I can.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Never give up.  If writing is what you truly want to do than you just have to keep at it.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
A story that you love and remember.  Something you’ll want to read over and over again from time to time.  I’d also love to inspire them to maybe step out of their box and be open to new things and new experiences that may come their way.

 A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
Life is what you make it.

 If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
If I could live anywhere I’d live in Miami.  Have a house with the beach in my backyard.

 What song would best describe your life?
“Billionaire” by Travis McCoy and Bruno Mars.

 If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Warning:  Must handle with care.

Leather or lace? Lace
Black or red? Red
Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton? Satin Sheets
Ocean or mountains? Ocean
City life or country life? City Life
Hunky heroes or average Joe? Hunky heroes
Party life or quiet dinner for two? Quiet dinner for two.
Dogs or cats? Cats
 I love pizza with   (fill in the blank). I love pizza with cheese sticks.
I'm always ready for   (fill in the blank). I’m always ready for an adventure.
When I'm alone, I   (fill in the blank). When I’m alone, I enjoy my time alone with a good book.
You'd never be able to tell, but   (fill in the blank). You’d never be able to tell, but I love to work with my hands putting things together around the house.
If I could   (fill in the blank)   I'd   (fill in the blank). If I could afford it I’d travel all around the world.
I can never   (fill in the blank)   because   (fill in the blank). I can never give up because it’s not in my nature.

Where can your readers find you?
My website:
Buy Links to book covers:
Bondage by the Bay – Kink in San Francisco:

Where’s your favorite place to hang out online?
My favorite places to hangout are my website, my blog, and my Facebook page.

Shashauna P. Thomas graduated from Cornell University and SUNY Stony Brook with two BAs' before returning to the Bronx where she was born and raised.  It wasn’t until after college that she first began writing erotic romances for open call submissions.  That is when she discovered that writing was her true passion and she’s been crafting the vivid tales she sees in her head ever since.  With the love and support of family, friends, and her sorority sisters the D.I.V.A.S. of Lambda Fe Usöñ Sorority Inc. she has had a number of her erotic stories published.  One of her greatest hopes is that her stories inspire her readers to be open-minded and to not be afraid to try new things.  And most importantly to follow their hearts no matter where it leads them.


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