Tuesday, January 31, 2012

OMG!

One of my buddies at work said she could watch this all day long.  Oh, yeah. Me too.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Far Can I Go?

I've been thinking of this for the last year, especially since I've become published. Time is precious (no matter published or not) and I believe I'll give the blog about 40 more posts (that'll make it post 1000) and then I'll call it quits. It doesn't interest many people (Hello, JoAnn! And whoever it is that looks at it from Mountainview, CA!) and I really need to dedicate my time to productive things that generate more interest than this. Even my kids don't read it.  :-)

What do I plan to do with it?  Probably pull it together into a book for myself. I believe Blogger has a program set up so I can do that. Hopefully it doesn't cost an arm and leg. If it does, I'll think of an alternate plan.  In the meanwhile, I'll probably leave it up for a few months and make sure this is what I want to do.

We'll see how it goes.

P.S. Mountainview, CA: I would love to know who you are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There Are Emails and Then There Are Emaaails

Emails.   They can be life savers. You know, when you have to tell someone something important and you want proof that you did.  Or you email someone who is notorious for keeping you on the phone forever. Short and sweet. Or you email yourself a reminder, knowing you always check your account when you get home.  Or when you have to tell someone bad news. Who wouldn’t rather send an email, though that’s a little dangerous and you probably know why.  That leads into . . .  

Emails.  They can be the bane of our existence.  You send an email asking for clarification on someone’s email or you remind someone what they forgot to do. Or you make a statement, it can be positive but especially those that are negative, and before you know it, you’re in a heated email debate.  I hate those with a passion.  I’ve had the misfortune to be involved in three separate instances where people have become angry at something I’ve typed in an email. Working in a day job that includes mainly working with men, I’ve learned to be short and to the point. Nothing like my writing here or my romances.

The first time it happened, I tried my best to defuse it by explaining why I said what I did. When the angry emailer continued to blast me, I knew it wasn’t getting anywhere. Some people just want to take offense and see words that aren’t written in the email. In other words, they read between the lines. Sad thing, I try to be polite, but I never say anything I don’t mean. I have no idea what type of experiences that person has had in the past. She (yes, very sad thing, they’ve all been women) may have been lied to by another woman and she didn’t trust I was being truthful. Or she thought I was being sarcastic.  It’s a shame there are no fonts for Truthfulness, Teasing, Sarcasm, and Sincerity.

Another time, I simply asked a question that someone else had asked me.  I was mildly curious and a simple answer in turn would’ve satisfied me. Lord of Mercy, you would’ve thought I had questioned their ancestry. After learning from the previous time of how when someone doesn’t like you (that’s when I realized she didn’t – people who like you are less likely to get so offended when you ask a question and not even a personal one), I quickly apologized for the misunderstanding and never asked a question of that function again. Well, at least to that person within her hearing and certainly not in an email to anyone.

The doozy email problem was with an author I’d admired and really liked, and it had happened in-between the two above.  Looking back on it, I realized I could’ve handled it better.  It was during a stressful time for everyone, and I had already been on pins and needles as the author in a previous email had accused me of ignoring her at a function.  I cried when I got that email. Like I said it was stressful time and one of my favorite people was upset with me. Needless to say, when she began fussing at a meeting about how something was handled (she hadn’t attended a meeting in a year) and then emailed our chapter loop complaining, once again, I tried to explain, even stood up for myself. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. She has spoken to me only once since then, but she hasn’t been to a writers meeting since. I hated that it happened, but we all must move on. Although, like I said, I could’ve handled it better, I know she wouldn’t listen to what I had to say as she’d already decided that I couldn’t be trusted. Too sad. 

If only these people knew, I’m so honest as sometimes I take on responsibility of things I later find out wasn’t my fault. I just assume I screwed up. I know I’m not perfect, wished I was. One thing I have realized, sounding like you’re too nice (giving truthful compliments about clothes or something they did) can make people who don’t like you think you’re insincere.

So what I’ve learned from all of this. Don’t have negative opinions in emails. If someone attacks you in an email or you think they have, ignore them. If you can’t, keep it short (that’s very important), polite, and if you must do so to defuse the situation, apologize, and then don’t answer any more of their emails about that subject afterwards.  Then if they continue to send accusations or whatever, others (if it is on a loop or public arena) will realize it wasn’t you, or if privately, they will realize you’re ready to move on and their insecurities are their problem.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cardboard People

Have you ever read a book and never felt like you knew the character? You often don't even finish the book. While the books you read and love, doesn't it feel like you know those people? 

When a book has a hero/heroine who never changes their personality or even their mind, then they're a cardboard character. One dimensional.

What got me to thinking today about that was how I've changed over the years. Not just appearing older (and bigger - though now not quite as big - thank goodness) but how I feel about life and the people around me. When I was a kid, I wouldn't drink tea. Yeah, I know, how un-Southern of me. Well, now I love the stuff. Part of the reason was my mom put so little sugar in it, it tasted like tainted water. My mother-in-law uses a lot of sugar and that's when I fell in love with it.

You know people expect you to be the same as you were as a child, teenager or young adult. Impossible for most of us. We mature, have different experiences, learn to improve on ourselves or develop bad habits. I'm not the same person I was last year. Sure, basically I am, but still I've changed.

So if you read a book where the heroine (using a woman for an example) is kick-ass and sure of herself to the point she does no wrong, then she's cardboard, one dimensional. I like my heroines with big faults and big problems to solve. She learns new ways to deal with her problems. She's even willing to look outside the box.

The same thing for the guy. I like a guy to skirt the law if needed and not always to justify the end. That realization of needing to improve comes often after he falls in love and wants to be a better man. Maybe he doesn't know how and the heroine doesn't have to show him. He just depends on instinct, wanting to please his lady and become a better man. Don't forget, men think different than women. What he thinks is a better man might not actually fit into what the heroine "thinks" is better. But us women are flexible, we're willing to applaud the effort.

Three to four dimensional characters is what I shoot for and sometimes readers aren't willing to let them grow and become better people. I have to say if they would give them a chance, it will be so worth it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

iBookstore

I mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter and totally missed it here. But a couple weeks ago, Circle of Desire was #2 on iBookstore's Romance Erotica. Isn't that cool?  It's staying in the top 10 (updated daily or hourly, not sure) most of the time and today around 6 p.m. was in number 10.

It's been so much fun looking at the list every day. Friday, I noticed that the sub-category Erotica had been dropped off the "MORE ROMANCE" title. WHAT! So I've sent an email to iTunes. We'll see if they even fix it. So if you type in Erotica Romance (in the search location), it goes to mostly the regular erotica. Yes, there is a difference. Big time difference. So frustrating.

So the only way I've found to get that spot is to type in my name in the search location. Click on Circle of Desire and then at the top left, click on Erotica (shows as Books > Romance > Erotica > Carla Swafford).  Then the bestseller list is on the right. 

For prosperity, I 'snipped' the website so I can keep it, plus show you.  This is from January 11, 2012, when Circle of Desire was #2.


[Added 1/23/12: You can also go to my book by clicking Books, then $3.99 and less, and then click on Romance. I'm in that section (no "Top" chart) too!]
[Added 3/14/12:  Sad to say, as of the end of Janaury, iBooks dropped this category - not Erotica, but Erotica Romance. Circle of Desire is now under regular Romance, AVON IMPULSE, and $3.99.  Doesn't show up in Romantic Suspense and not even contemporary. And it's no longer on a top 10 chart. Geez! Nice while it lasted.]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sick Puppy

I've decided that I like to do edits. To me, it inspires. Makes me improve my story and fills me with confidence that the story is working. No. I'm not expecting my editor to read this. I really feel this way.

To some people, I'm a sick puppy for feeling this way. 

Just saying . . .

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Luck or Skill

I love to play games: board, cards, video, softball, whatever. When it comes to cards and other table games, I’m usually lucky the first few hands and then I don’t know if I get too sure of myself or what, but I start losing.

One time I played a dice game almost every weekend with one of my husband's aunts, and for around two years, I lost every hand. Don't ask me why I kept playing. I don't have an answer. Maybe because it was fun and I'm too hard-headed to give up. Then I finally won a game. Funny thing. We stopped playing. 

I did learn I wasn't a strategist and most games involve that skill.

Anyway, I've never counted on luck to carry me through anything. Lotteries. Tried them but I knew it was unlikely that I would win. But I do have to say at special church functions, I won several door prizes. There has been times I just "felt" something good would happen and it did.

Yeah, yeah, I know this all sounds strange because I did enter several writing contests over the years. But to me that wasn't entirely luck. A good portion of it had to be the story that caught the judges' attention along with my writing. So in that case, luck played only a small part.

Though not a game, but has to do with luck: when the day job I had for twenty years sold and was being moved away by the new company, I was blessed and fortunate to find another job immediately with the possibility of even another with a company I really wanted to work with. Well, I did. Now I work for the company I wish I had started at those twenty years before (I would've made a heck of lot more money and have a bigger 401K too).

I felt powerful like I could do anything. Though I had gone through hard times at the old company, I knew my job inside and out. I was confident. Then I started at the new day job and it kicked my butt. I felt stupid. I felt like I disappointed a lot of people. After thirteen (see #13 popping up) years, I'm finally back confident with my job though it's stressful and kicks my butt often. And some days I don't feel so smart. But not stupid, thank goodness.

When I got The Call last year and knew I would finally have a book published, I expected my luck to start getting better again, but I was aware it could stay the same. I figured it could go one of two ways. I could do real great at first (like I do in games) and then everything would slack off and I would disappoint myself and others. Or I would struggle in the beginning and then people would become confident in me and my books would slowly grow in popularity.

Well, I think it's a combination (so far) of both. I enjoy working with my editor and everything went well. Got a great blurb from a well-know author (my sweet friend) and impressed my editor and agent. The way I look at it, I did everything right. (I think.) But my sales haven't been where they need to be. I work real hard not to compare myself to anyone, but it's human nature to do so and I feel in some ways as if I let people down. Sorry. Pity Party moment.

BUT, it might be the other thing happening. Where I start off slow and everything grows in popularity. One of the benefits of not having an advance, I don't have to worry about it being paid back and maybe my publisher will give me a little longer to get the word out there. Everything is pointing to me getting another contract but who knows? They may decide I'm not worth the trouble.

It's a shame that this all didn't happen when the economy was better and I was making some great bonuses - the day job company hasn't paid one in three, going on four years.  The bonuses would've been helpful in paying for advertising. And we all know how that helps a lot.

Truth be told, there were a few other things that could've been done differently by others and I've wondered why some were treated better, but that's neither here or there and this isn't the place to air that.  The Party ends here.

I plan to hang in there and keep working at getting my name out into the public, write more books and see what happens.  The slow to start and grow in confidence and popularity sounds good to me.  So much better than depending on luck.

So wish me luck...uh...continued success and I'll let you know how the next book does.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Come On Over

Yep, once again, it's that time!  I'm over at the Romance Magicians talking about lucky numbers.  Funny thing was I almost forgot to post on my scheduled day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Re-Run #10

Avon Romance: Introducing Carla Swafford (October 26, 2011)

I'm going to cheat on this one and make you click here and you'll go straight there. It's just so cool as this one was on Avon's blog. Yeah. Cool, isn't it?  I never dreamed I would be with the same publisher as Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In fact, the other day, all of the Avon authors had a conference call to hear a presentation on Social Media and Susan spoke up. When she said her name, I had to cover my mouth from squealing. Considering how often I roll my eyes when other people do that, that's got to tell you something. LOL!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Re-Run #9

This one is from Cynthia Eden's blog on November 8, 2011. She's a talented and kind author who invited me to her blog. It was a lot of fun with lots of comments.


Why I Love Alphas, and No! My Heroine Isn’t A B*tch.

Thank goodness Cynthia doesn’t write young adult. Otherwise, I would have to change the title, and I would hate that as it clearly tells you what I’m about to post.

First, let’s talk about heroines, especially those strong willed and confident ones. In Circle of Desire, Olivia St. Vincent is logical and capable of doing the job required without allowing her emotions to interfere with the job. When I first wrote the book, my critique partners disliked her. Yet, I thought she was interesting. She was totally different than any of the tough heroines in the books I love to read.

So I had to figure out a way to get the readers to give her a chance and not throw the book against the wall. What I found is I needed to show what’s happening deep, deep inside of her in the beginning. Otherwise, she comes across cold and cardboard-like. By inserting a few physical tremors and self-deprecating humor after she completes an assignment (killing a man), readers can look into her psyche and realize she’s what she is because she’s a survivor. Life has thrown her some really hard curve balls and her skin has toughened with each hit.

 I do enjoy writing women like Olivia. Resilient and self-sufficient and enjoys a sexy man on her own terms.

Now let’s talk about my favorite man to read: the Alpha male. Of course, you have to capitalize Alpha for no other reason than they’re, well, Alpha. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it? They’re larger than life. Masterful, dangerous, and downright sexy. Some are more caveman than gentleman. I lean more toward gentleman with an edge. I like them smart. They can talk you into their bed. Who am I kidding? They can look at you with one eyebrow lifted and you’re willing to crawl into their bed, but don’t we all love making them work for it?

Collin Ryker is a gentleman. In the beginning of the book ― don’t worry, I’m not giving away anything that isn’t in the blurb ― he tries to get Olivia to take the knockout drug without forcing her. That is, besides restraining her hands and feet. But when she resists and time has run out, he persuades her to swallow the pills in a unique, and dare I say it, sexy way.

My heroes know they can’t boss around their ladies without repercussions. Hey, the fellows even respect them for it. In Collin’s case, he even gets a little excited by Olivia’s way of showing her displeasure. Heehee.

Collin isn’t the only Alpha in this series. Yes. Another one is due out the first half of 2012. It’s titled Circle of Danger. And I hope to write several more. In Circle of Danger, you’ll find out what makes Collin’s brother tick. While Collin is a gentleman with an edge, Ryker’s all edge with an emphasis on intense. His heroine, Marie, is the only person who can calm his beast. Sigh.

Now, what are some of your favorite traits in the Alpha heroes you enjoy reading?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reminders!

Just a reminder that you can follow me on Twitter (@carlaswafford) and LIKE me at Facebook (Carla Swafford, Author).  Be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I promise you won't receive one every month. Probably two to four times in a year. Maybe.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Re-Run #8

This the post I did at Just Romantic Suspense website on November 9, 2011. It's a great place to find all the authors and their books of romantic suspense. Thus the name of the website.  LOL!

Who Knew Romantic Suspense Would Be The One?
 
Being a lover of all genres of romance, I started reading romantic historicals when I was twelve, and later added Harlequin contemporaries and then whatever paranormals I could find. At that time, there were more horror paranormal than romantic.
 
When I decided to try my hand at writing, my first try was a couple paragraphs about a hand holding a gun and pointing it through an open doorway. My brother teased me about my horrible prose. But I didn’t give up. A few years later, I wrote my first full book: a medieval and the heroine didn’t have a little brother.
 
Who would’ve ever guess that #*&%&^ (mumble-mumble) years later I would be published in romantic suspense. By the way, my brother is very proud of me.
 
When I started writing Circle of Desire, I had completed eight other books and the last two were paranormal. I wanted to look for something different to write. Authors are told all the time write what you love. Well, that’s what I had done so far. I’d written vampires, witches, and a female chauvinist.  Others were of a bad boy preacher’s son, tough-as-nails sheriff, and a female truck driver. So what was left?
 
One of my favorite books of Linda Howard’s is All The Queen’s Men. The ├╝ber-spy, John Medina, is sexy and pure Alpha. I always have to capitalize Alpha. Just seems right.  Then I love Michael on the TV show, Le Femme Nikita.  He’s soft spoken and so sure of himself.  I have all of the DVDs.

Okay. Now I’ll check and see if you were paying attention. In the third paragraph above, did you notice the type of women I write? They’re not your every day average heroine. So keep that in mind.
 
After contemplating a couple other ideas, I decided to write a book about an assassin, but I wanted to twist it around and have the woman as the coldblooded killer. Yet, at the same time, she needed to be sympathetic. Strange thing, I’ve found female readers are more forgiving of a man who kills, if it is perceived as ridding the world of scum, than they are of a woman doing the same. Anyway, I like heroines who are strong as their heroes. Of course, no matter how they try to emulate men, their emotions get the best of them in the end. Thank goodness. That’s when the romance really blooms and takes off.
 
Olivia St. Vincent is a perfect mate for Collin Ryker. He’s really more brains than brawn though he has no problem defending himself when Olivia tries to kick his butt. Twice.
 
If you like action-packed, intense drama and hot scenes with some moments of sarcasm throw in and then I believe you’ll enjoy Circle of Desire. 
 
But that’s only the beginning of the series. In the first half of next year, you can find out in Circle of Danger how Collin’s brother handles the rebellious woman he’s been forbidden to touch…well, that is, until now.
 
Now, let’s have some fun. I love lists, and thought you might enjoy the top ten clues that you're reading too much Romantic Suspense.
 
10. You suspect every grieving widower of having "a hand" in the death of his wife.
 
9. You see a report of a wreck on the interstate and shout at the television "the boyfriend did it!"
 
8. You believe you can solve any crime if your husband was a sexy police detective.
 
7. You suspect the clean-cut guy in your office of being a potential serial killer because he has "that look."
 
6. You eye the small sunken area in the backyard and wonder if a body is buried there.
 
5. You refuse to go to children’s birthday parties because every time a balloon pops, you duck.
 
4. You feel a need to explain to the checkout boy that you really use the black plastic bags for leaves.

3. You leave the shower curtains open during a shower.

2. You drive past your house believing the car in the rearview mirror is tailing you.
 
1. You become worried that your husband is plotting your death because he’s being too nice after watching a marathon of Cold Case.

 What clues have you found in your life?  But really, can we ever read too much? No!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Re-Run #7

This is from the wonderful and kind Christy Reece's blog October 25, 2011.  She has a great following and writes some great books.  Be sure to check her out.


Why I Like To Write Romances Especially Hot Ones?

You probably can’t believe this but there are people out there who hate romance books. And to make it worse, a lot of those people are women. Yeah. Weird, isn’t it? I have a hard time understanding it too.

Considering women are naturally emotional creatures (duh!), and the best romances are filled to the brim with all kinds of feelings, you would think all of us would love them.  

To me, romances have so much going for them along with all the mushy stuff. First and foremost, they guarantee you a happy ending. Then they offer numerous genres such as general contemporary, historical, suspense, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult (aww! puppy love) and the newest, horror. Yep. You read it right. The slasher, chill ‘em, thrill ‘em with blood and gore type. Hey, I don’t write it. I merely report it.

Now when it comes to my preferred reading material, I want them to be hot. It can be one of the first six above, but they need to be scorching with no bedroom door shut. I do read some young adult, but please leave the sex out. Even though they have the word adult in their genre description, most of the characters are younger than eighteen. The heavy kissing and petting can get a little steamy and that’s okay. Normal teenager stuff.

So when it came to writing my own book, it made sense I would write hot. I love reading a book where the hero and heroine have a hard time keeping their hands to themselves. I love how they have a problem thinking about anything but each other. When they finally get together, it’s so explosive, that the pages become singed by their lovemaking. Though they may call it having sex or by some other provocative word, we know what’s going to happen. It will be making love by the end of the book.

That’s what happens to Collin in the beginning of Circle of Desire. He has to pat down Olivia, check her for a locator beneath her skin. And for him to do that, she must be naked. He finds he can’t control his hands, and her enthusiastic reaction is a big turn on for him. Before he knows it, he … wait! You have to read the book. I will say that he’s a gentleman and keeps his clothes on. I do love to torment others with little teasing tidbits.

What I like best about that scene is that later you find out Collin is all about controlling his emotions. And every time Olivia is nearby, he’s so turned on, he’s nearly helpless. So he tries to twist the attraction into a means to manipulate her. But as time goes by, you can’t help but wonder if it didn’t backfire.

So to answer the question in the title of this post, I like them hot because it heightens not only the passionate love scenes, but all the emotions between the hero and heroine throughout the book.

So what are some of your favorite hot books?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Speaking Of Pain In The . . . Reviews.

Every author has a love - hate relationship with reviews. We love them when the reviewer loves our book. We hate them when the reviewer has issues. Hahaha! I couldn't help that. But we all know a lot of how we feel about a book has to do with our own issues. 

If you're reading a book that the hero has the same name of your ex, you may have a hard time liking the story. Or if you had a bad relationship with a guy who bossed you around or maybe go as far as being abusive, then you're less likely to like Alpha heroes, especially those that are a little rough around the edges. 

Or you're in bad mood and the book you picked up leans toward romantic comedy, you'll think it's stupid and not funny.  Or you don't like sex (that's so sad) and someone recommends a book with some graphic bedplay/wallplay/tableplay/etc. in it, you'll think the heroine is a slut and hate the book. (Though that's ironic as it usually takes two in a romance. So the guy is a slut too. Only fair to call him that if you're going to call the women names.)

So as a reader, I've always kept all those things in mind when I read a book review. Especially if the reviewer cannot give me a really good reason not to want to read it. If she talks about being too much sex and not enough plot, I'm more likely to buy it for sure.  I do love hot books. Thus why I write them. If he talks about a too stupid to live heroine or hero (yes, they do exist too), then I may want to read the first few pages before deciding. You know I love Alpha males, but if I read one that talks like a cave man, I'll turn it down in a heartbeat. You my mate, you spread legs, you mine. Grunt. Grunt. Can't stand those.  I don't mind the quiet and silent types -- oops, I've gotten off track here. Off Alphas and back to reviews.

I guess I'm trying to tell everyone, if you see a book with mostly one stars (cups, hearts, arrows or whatever) on a review and very few or none of the larger numbers, then sure the book may have a problem.  But when you see a few or a good handful, don't worry especially when they're mixed with many of the larger quantity stars. Just read the first few pages. If you don't find the way the hero or heroine acts interesting, then chances are the book isn't for you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Flawed Heroes and Their Pain

Nah, I'm not talking about BDSM. You know, those tortured heroes that try to better themselves and sometimes fail. Well, at least they believe they fail. Love those stories. Anyway, Christy Reece is talking about them over at Fresh Fiction. Check it out.

When it comes to tortured heroes (and heroines), I can't wait until you get to read Ryker and Marie's story. Talk about a rough childhood. They had it in spades, but I must say they turned out to be rather well-rounded adults in the long run. They're perfect for each other.

Be sure to click here and sign up for my newsletter. I plan to start sending out one when I have really great news to tell before I announce it here and Facebook. Plus, I should include snippets of the book for your pleasure only.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Start Of A New Year

Like everyone, I've been thinking of what goals I met last year and the ones I plan for this year.

Last year I planned to finish an old vampire 1st person book. I did. Actually, I finished two books this year. Note that the one that sold was already completed. Like every year prior, I planned to get published. I finally did. At the first of 2011, I knew I needed to save my money that I usually spent on conferences and spend it on a family vacation instead. I did. I planned to quit spreading myself thin (day job, family, writing) and end my obligations with my writers group by the end of 2011.  I did.  2010 had been a stellar year in contests (5 finals - that almost half of those entered; plus there were a couple questionable on how they scored me - see posts in 2010 about those) for me and I had hoped to do it again this year. With the sale, that knocked me out of many of the contests (no true lost there. LOL!) but I still was able to final in three (two were with a historical romance). So I guess that last plan was still a positive. A sale - technically two sales - trumps all.

This year, I plan to finish two books and a novella. I would love to finish the historical someway this year too. It's not top priority though. 

I plan to go to at least two conferences: Silken Sands (already paid the fee) and RWA National (that one comes due 1/26).  M&M in October is still up for debate. 

I plan to continue on my weight loss program and hopefully will be in good shape by July and that includes taking care of my body with physicals and check ups.

I plan not to sweat the small stuff in life and enjoy every moment of being published. To continue to help others to become published. The traditional way - not self-published. That's a totally different post I'll do later this month maybe. I'll keep in mind that writing a book that entertains is the key to success. So that leads into my next one.

I plan to write, write, and write along with improve my craft. My books aren't literary masterpieces. They're written for entertainment and to make people sigh and feel hopeful about romance in their own lives.

There are a few more plans (goals) I'm sure that haven't come to mind at this moment, but I can always add them later.