Category Archives: Cool Gus Publishing
Please welcome guest blogger and Cool Gus Team Member Jennifer Probst. Jennifer is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of both sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her novel, The Marriage Bargain, was the #6 Bestselling Book on Amazon for 2012. Her first children’s book, Buffy and the Carrot, was co-written with her 12 year old niece, and her short story, “A Life Worth Living” chronicles the life of a shelter dog. She makes her home in New York with her sons, husband, two rescue dogs, and a house that never seems to be clean. She loves hearing from all readers! Stop by her website for all her upcoming releases, news and street team information.
Take it away Jennifer!
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The Power of Dialogue…
One of the true pleasures I find in a good book is well written dialogue.
Since I write contemporary romance, with real situations and every day characters, dialogue is key to liven up the action, hook the reader, and keep the pages turning.
As my son would say, easy peasy, lemon squeezie…
I’ll be using examples of my new Re-Release, Executive Seduction:
1. Make sure your hero and heroine sound DIFFERENT: Let’s be honest—if you overhear a conversation between men and women, they are from two separate planets. Men talk daily stuff. Men are brief, sometimes stilted, sometimes crude, and communicate with grunts, laughs, insults, comments, and despise going deep.
Women like to talk about feelings. They speak in longer sentences, more descriptive, more animated with their bodies. They listen, delve deep, and sometimes touch others in a show of support.
If your hero is speaking in long, flowery language to your heroine, it’s just not gonna fly. And if you’re heroine isn’t opening up or trying to communicate with the hero, there’s a damn good reason why. She’s hiding something. Make sure you know what it is.
2. Keep it snappy: I don’t want to hear inane conversation about garbage day, dishes, or who they were speaking with on the phone. Make it count. Make it move. Make it interesting.
3. Use dialogue to reveal hidden secrets: Sometimes a long narrative description of hidden secrets from the hero or heroine is just too lengthy and drags. I love using dialogue to reveal parts of my character. Confessions in the dark after sex are done for a very good reason. There’s safety there. Instead of using thoughts, flashbacks or memories, use dialogue.
Here’s an example of 2 & 3:
The lilting strains of the slow, moody ballad drifted in the air. The floaty material of her silk dress brushed against his thighs as they moved. Logan muttered something under his breath.
“I said Laura must want to torture me. I should be arrested for the lecherous thoughts I’m having in a public place.”
Chandler hid a smile. “She’d be shocked at your lecherous words, too.”
“I think it turned you on.”
“So you’ve said.” His gaze dropped to her mouth. “Laura likes you. She thinks you’ll be good for me.”
“I think she’s tired of making pork chops every Thursday.”
Logan chuckled. “Smart mouth. From the sweetest of smiles comes the sharpest of barbs.”
“Who said that?”
“Oh. I thought you were quoting someone.”
“I was quoting myself. Why do you look so nervous?”
“You’re staring at my mouth like you’re starving, and I’m your next meal.”
He gave a wolfish grin.
“I’m still trying to convince myself I’m not your prey.”
“When you look at me like that, I think I’d chase you to the ends of the earth.”
“See, you are a poet. And to think I’d given up on dry, logical businessmen. Maybe there’s hope for your lot.”
“Dry, logical businessmen can transform if they find the right women.”
This time he caught her before she stumbled. His fingers threaded through her hair hanging down her back. Her scalp prickled, and she ached for him to put an end to the torture and just kiss her. The delicious scent of musk and spice drifted to her nostrils. She blurted out her next words without obvious thought. “Why do you chase me so hard?”
“Why do you run so fast?”
Her lower lip trembled. “Because I’m afraid.”
4. Reveal hidden traits of characters: We all have a belief system. Instead of spouting poetic to the reader of what your character believes in, let it come out in dialogue. You both may learn something. Here’s a quick example of dinner conversation that runs much deeper:
“Food seems to be another one of life’s pleasures. Don’t you agree?” he asked. She paused in the act of reaching for another shrimp cocktail as the waiter left.
“I try to be vegetarian and eat tofu and yogurt, but my heart just isn’t in it.” She smiled. “I feel guilty when I lecture my students on nutrition. I’ve already made note of the dessert menu.”
He laughed. “A woman whose heart is controlled by her stomach. I respect that.” He watched her bite into the shrimp and close her eyes in delight. “I hope your profession can support your appetite.”
“If I wanted a fortune, I would have worked as a business executive.”
“So you said before. What else do you hate besides money, Chandler?”
She blinked. “Power. Controlling people. Lies hidden behind smiles. The usual things most people hate.”
“It’s not so simple,” he said softly. “Most grab at an opportunity with both hands. People raised in poverty see money as their only way out of hell.”
She shook her head. “It’s a trap. They’re really giving up the self, and what they get in return is a lie. Money and power are illusions and only soothe for a temporary period. Then they wake up one morning needing more, and sacrificing more to get it. In the end they lose everything important and find themselves alone. Money can’t help loneliness.”
“That sounds like a conclusion drawn by one who followed the path and got burned. You talk from experience. What made you change?”
5. Ramp up your sex scenes. Sigh. Well, I had to talk about sex, I am a romance writer. A great love scene is key in romance, and let’s be honest, a little naughty dialogue ramps up the tension in both the characters and reader.
“You are so gorgeous. I can’t wait to spend hours just looking at you.” Her natural shyness caved beneath the raw lust in his voice, and her mind shut down for a permanent vacation. His palm settled over her center and he lightly massaged her tender flesh, but never enough to satisfy. She moaned long and low. “But right now I want to play. Does this feel good?”
Her voice came out ragged. “Yes.”
“And this?” He squeezed her nipples and pleasure pain ripped through her. He rotated his hand, dragging the lacy fabric back and forth, until her heart pounded and her blood roared, and she thought she’d die of pleasure if he kept going. “Oh, God, yes.”
“Open your legs for me, ” he muttered darkly in her ear.
Whew! That’s it – happy reading and happy speaking!
You can buy Executive Seduction at the following links or come by my website!
- Cool Gus Publishes Jennifer Probst & Colin Falconer Today (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
- EXECUTIVE SEDUCTION (Formally Heart of Steel) by Jennifer Probst (gonereadin.wordpress.com)
- Review: Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst (sharonsbooknook.com)
The Romance Writer’s of America annual National Conference (#RWA13) in Atlanta, GA is just days away. There is a lot of chatter on various loops, blogs, etc. about the conference. We’ve posted some of our SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) here at Write on the River/Write it Forward. Other writers and industry professionals have blogged about their tips and tricks. Twitter, Facebook at many groups are all discussing the big event. Everything from tips on packing to what to wear to the Rita’s to why some authors have decided not to go.
My original title for this blog was The Dynamic Duo takes on Atlanta and RWA. But that would make me Robin. Then I thought, nah, how about The Lone Ranger and Tonto invades Atlanta and RWA, but then I’d have to listen to Bob and why does The Lone Ranger have a side-kick named Tonto who has a bird on his head, if he’s the Lone Ranger. Again, that makes me Tonto. And of course the jokes about my big hair. So, it’s Cool Gus, which is who we are anyway. I digress.
This is a big event for Cool Gus. It will be the first time we’ve attended RWA together as a partnership. The last few years we’ve attended Thrillerfest, also a really good conference. We were scheduled to attend (together) RWA back when it was supposed to be in Nashville, but got moved to Orlando and due to some family obligations on Bob’s part, I attended alone. Cool Gus was just a babe and the digital explosion had just begun.
Anywho, we’re off to see the Wizard…or maybe to conspire with Darth Vader inside the Death Star. Either way, we have a very busy schedule. I just sent it to Bob, who is finishing up the third book in the Nightstalker series (The Book of Truths, Book II, comes out 30 July, hint, hint) and is head down, internet off, no distractions (even from Tonto) finishing it up. I hear it’s pretty wicked, but that’s about it. He’s so tight-lipped about these things sometimes.
We get in early afternoon on Thursday, but go right to an Agency gathering, then a meeting with a representative of Amazon, and then a meeting with Natalie Markey, one of our authors. If it’s humid down there, my hair by this time will probably look like the bird on Tonto’s head. I’m obsessed with Tonto. If my DH ever agrees to finally let me get a dog (I usually get my way, though it often takes years) I plan on naming the dog Tonto. I need my own side-kick. But I digress, again.
We’ll also being meeting with Jennifer Probst, the newest member to the Cool Gus family. Uh-Oh. Jen Squared strikes again. Watch out! Atlanta will never be the same. The lovely people from Nook Press will also be there, so we’ll be talking with them. And there is of course, the meeting of the, well, Bob and I (Dynamic Duo, Lone Ranger & Tonto, Frick and Frack) or the quarterly business meeting of the master minds of Cool Gus. It’s all in how you look at it.
Nationals can be overwhelming. So many people. So many workshops. So many conflicting ideas. Yes. Conflicting. Especially now that there are so many opportunities for writers to get their work published. There is traditional. Small press. Digital presses. Indie. Self. Hybrid. There will be workshops on all of these. Oh, FYI, Bob and I are doing a round-table discussion in the self-publishing track on Saturday at 4:30. Be there or be square.
There will also be workshops on marketing and promotion, social media and I’m guessing formatting and cover design and many other things pertaining to authors and how to publish. There will be editor panels. Agent panels. Panels with editors, agents and authors, oh my.
And of course workshops on craft. Very important.
We always recommend that when attending any workshop to consider the source. What point of view are they coming from? What has been their career path and what is your career path? There is more than one yellow brick road. What works for one author, might not work for the other.
Picking workshops can be difficult. One thing we recommend in our Conference Guide is to divide and conquer. Get with your chaptermates or critique group and divide up workshops that are at the same time. Take notes, then share. I do believe RWA will provide you with the flash drive of all the handouts and some of the workshops are recorded, but there is nothing like sitting with a group of writers and discussing the topics in person.
Another thing we recommend is picking the workshop based on speaker and not necessarily topic.
There have been so many changes in publishing that it will be interesting to see what the ‘vibe’ is at RWA, especially since it’s been a few years since we’ve attended.
We’re excited to be attending RWA this year and we look forward to our scheduled meetings, but we also look forward to sitting in the lobby and meeting new faces and discussing all the wonderful opportunities there are for writers today. It really is a great time to be a writer, no matter what path you take.
We have a general rule that once we leave our rooms in the morning, we don’t go back until the day is done, unless I have to change my shoes because I never follow that rule of wearing comfortable shoes.
If you’re attending RWA, come find us. Seriously. We’ll be in the lobby.
- How to get the most out of your time and money at RWA National #RWA13 (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
- Raising Anchor! (katherinebone.wordpress.com)
- RWA Countdown: One Stop Shop for Linkage (angelaquarles.com)
- 450 Romance Authors to Sign Books at RWA Literacy Fundraiser (prweb.com)
This past week I got on a plane, which for me can be very nerve-wracking. Something I have in common with my heroine, Shauna Morgan from Jane Doe’s Return. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share with you a short excerpt I wrote from her point of view on an airplane. Exactly how I feel.
Anyway, I was heading to my very first Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City where I’ve never been. Interestingly enough, I had just seen the show Wicked. Even more interesting was that EL James made an appearance at RT and my hubby will be taking me to the 50 Shades of Gray show in a couple of weeks. I find all that kind of freaky. But I’m digressing already.
When Bob and I travel together we tend to try to make our flights match up at least at the final destination. This is the second time that Bob has had to say to me, “relax, the plane landed, you’re fine.” This was after me texting as I was sitting on the plane and it was making this noise like I was in an MRI machine and me and this other guy were totally freaking out. We both hit the flight attendant button and she told us both, with a smile and half laugh, that for this particular airbus, the noise was normal.
I think not.
Besides, I kept thinking about these stories that Bob tells when he’s teaching. About plane crashes, or plane mishaps, and the things that go into the causes of these disasters. I’m thinking, I’m on ‘that’ disaster.
The flight attendant assured us, but I was still freaking out. Poor guy next to me was like, um, really lady? Get over it. The flight attendant assured me that once we were up on the air, the noise would stop and would NOT start again on the way day. Should have seen my face when it started again on the way down. I was not happy.
And then, in Kansas, in MAY, it snowed! Okay, so I’m used to here, but really? It was like 60 and sunny at home and I’m in Kansas where it’s snowing. Bob didn’t even bring a jacket (except his suit coat), though we only actually left the hotel when we took the free shuttle to a restaurant with Brenda Novak and a friend of hers. That was fun. But the snow, rain, cold, not so much. If you have a chance, check out Brenda’s online auction. She does a great job and it’s for a great cause.
Then, Bob and I are sitting in the lobby after doing an interview with TJ Mackay of InD’Tale Magazine and Bob looks up and said, “This is the hotel where walkway collapsed during some tea dance and lots of people were killed.” I looked up and said, “Okay, I want to go home now.” Argh. Thankfully he waited until our last night to tell me this.
However, RT was an absolutely fabulous conference. Bob and I got to meet with our latest partnership, Jennifer Probst. We also took meetings with potential authors, other publishers and Amazon. We found a great place to set up camp and parked ourselves at a table and discussed business with each other, and anyone who stopped by. One thing we do at conferences is take a good look at our business plan. We specifically looked at Bob’s latest release (this week) of The Green Berets: Chasing the Lost. We crossed things we’d done off our list and added new things as we are always learning. Both our workshops were well attended and overall, Cool Gus was a big hit at RT. We’re looking at going back again. Very good conference.
But then I had to get on a plane again. Lucky for Bob, his flight took off an hour before mine, so he didn’t have to share in the: OMG, I’ve got to get on a plane! Moments. But he did enjoy teasing me on twitter after I emailed him in NYC that my plane (that I ran from gate to gate so I wouldn’t miss) was currently delayed for ‘maintenance’. Obviously, I made it home in one piece. And when I got home, we found that my romantic suspense novel: Jane Doe’s Return was burning up the Amazon charts. It hung out at #3 on the FREE bestseller list for 3 full days and then hug out in the top 100 in both Romance, Mystery& Suspense and Romantic Suspense Categories and it cracked the top 1000 on Amazon. That’s a pretty big deal. And as promised. Here is an excerpt of the heroine, Shauna Morgan and her flight experience.
Shauna Morgan gasped, then gripped the armrests, grateful no one sat in the seat next to her. The plane shook as the ground appeared to rise up from nowhere and greet the spinning wheels. The ones she prayed had been deployed, released, or whatever.
She hated flying, but had to look out the window. It seemed everyone who feared flying had to fixate their stare on the approaching ground. Like watching yourself plummet to your death would somehow make your trip better.
The plane bounced on the pavement, came to a roaring halt, and jerked forward toward the gate. She tried to swallow, but the lump in her throat wouldn’t allow her muscles to work properly. Her heart beat so fast she could no longer feel one pulse after the other. It had been years since she had been anywhere near her hometown. Although Saratoga Springs was about forty minutes north, Albany was close enough.
And Albany was where it all began.
Please welcome to Write It Forward/Write on the River International Bestselling Author Colin Falconer discussing one of his books from the Famous Women series: Harem. Welcome Colin!
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You are young and you are beautiful. You have been captured by the Turks after your Balkan city succumbed to a long siege. Your father and brothers are dead. You are terrified you will now be raped and murdered.
But you are not harmed by your captors, fearsome as they look. Instead you are taken back to the Ottoman capital and introduced into a gloomy wooden palace the Turks call the Eski Saraya.
You are put into the care of the Mistress of the Robes, where your flair for needlework is put to good use. You are taught Arabic and the Koran. But it is made clear to you that you are now a slave. Whatever high position in life you had before, now you are nothing; the Sultan’s plaything.
You accept that will never see your own country again. This is your home now and there are only two ways out of this dreary place. If you do not attract the Sultan’s eye he may one day give you away as a wife to one of his senior officers or ministers. But that’s if you’re lucky. You might just as easily be neglected and forgotten.
Or you can turn the tables.
You soon realize that these other women who share your predicament are your competition. One of them is going to be the mother of the next Sultan and attain a position of pre-eminent power in the country that enslaved her. If you are beautiful enough and clever enough and cunning enough that woman could be you.
The first step is to become gözde - ‘in the eye’; that is, you must catch the attention of the Lord of Life, the Sultan himself. An ambitious girl like yourself might find a way. It depends how devious you are.
Or you may rely on kismet, fate. One day you will wait with a hundred other girls in the court of the harem, pearls and jewels glittering in the sun. As the Sultan passes among you, he will take a handkerchief from the sleeve of his robe and drape it over your shoulder. You have been chosen! This is your golden chance.
You may have one night and be forgotten; or this could be the road to absolute power. It is entirely up to you.
You are taken first to the Keeper of the Baths, your entire body is shaved by slave girls and you are bathed in water scented with jasmine and orange. Your hair is shampooed with henna. Afterwards another slave coats your body with a mixture of warm rice flour and oil.
You are then prepared and coiffed and primped down to the last eyelash and the last drop of balm, dressed elaborately in clothes of incredible richness. Finally the Chief Black Eunuch escorts you to the Sultan’s bedchamber.
If you can please the Lord of Life then he might invite you back to his bed again. If the invitations become more frequent then you become iqbal, a favourite.
You will be given your own apartments, your own eunuch slaves, even an allowance of your own. You are on your way.
But it will all count for nothing unless you get pregnant and bear the Sultan a son. If you do, then you become a kadin, one of the Sultan’s wives.
You are now playing this deadly game in earnest because there are only ever four kadins. After that, the abortionist is called in.
As one of the select four you are just a breath away from power now. You are also in deadly danger.
Only one of you can become the mother of the next Sultan, the Sultan Valide. If you do, your power will be unquestioned, you will rule the entire Harem and your son will reign supreme in the country that made you a slave.
If you fail? You will probably end up at the bottom of the Bosphorus, drowned in a sack. So you cannot afford failure.
You must be clever and you must be charming and you must be attractive and you must be utterly ruthless.
These are your choices. This is the game.
This is the harem.
HAREM, Colin Falconer’s bestselling novel – translated into 14 languages across Europe – is now FREE for just two days Feb 13 and 14 on Amazon. Get yours here