Monday, May 7, 2012

Mimi Barbour on Victoria's Pages of Romance

Title - Pay nothing for books from Amazon??

Does it work to put your book for free on Amazon? Is it a good idea to belong to a group when your book goes free?

This is what happened to me. In March I joined the Indie Book Collective Lucky Days Free Par-tay along with many other authors. One of the requirements to be involved in this promotion was that I had to put my book "My Cheeky Angel" into the Select program on Amazon. In this way I could manage my promotion for those exact days.

IBC is the brainchild of best-selling author Carolyn McCray.  She is brilliant at what she does…and that is to guide the group through all the steps we needed to take in order to have a successful par-tay. She explained these steps in a series of Webinars where she gave us advice on our categories and covers, how to set up our book descriptions on Amazon and the best way to present the inner workings of our book like reviews, advertising our other work, etc. both in the front matter and the back.

Before the par-tay in March started, My Cheeky Angel was ranking around #240,500. Once she explained how to set my categories properly, within a few days the book had dropped to #140,000. I was shocked, and right then I decided I had made a good choice to be involved with this group. As the days drew closer, her committee of hard-working, very dedicated people had all of us busy setting up cross-promotion for the others in the par-tay and social media blurbs for twitter and facebook, etc.

On the big day, we all came free, and the website she'd designed came live. I watched in amazement as the downloads for my book went crazy. It was fantastic. Then the ranking dropped and on my best day I hit #552 in the free books and was #1 in two different categories and #2 in another. I walked around in shock for days…nothing I could do for myself would have ever gotten me these numbers. And I knew it!

*Amazon does allow for the free downloads to affect the ranking once your book is off the free slot, but not on a one to one basis. It's changing all the time, and the last I'd heard (just a supposition mind you) that every 50 free downloads would be the same a one book sold.*

Once the Par-tay ended I waited with bated breath to see what would occur. And I'm happy to say that the book levelled off for quite some time at around the #5,000 mark and then sadly, it began to climb back up. The last I looked, it was approximately #53,000.

 But…I'm ecstatic to say that I'm now involved in the next par-tay which is happening in two days. Can't wait to see what ensues with my new release "His Devious Angel" which is the second in the Angels with Attitudes series. The first novella of my Vicarage Bench Series, "She's Me" will be available also.


I'll report back on what happens as far as the numbers go…but right now She's Me is ranking at #117,244 and Devious Angel is sitting at #82,810. If you're interested to track it with me, you can watch each day of the par-tay and see for yourself what a difference it'll make.

p.s. Crossed fingers, good wishes and prayers are all gladly accepted!
Better yet…download the book!
Xo Mimi


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May 7th – 9th!
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May 7th – 9th
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Go to our website to see all the great books and sign up to win a FREE Kindle!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ideas for Developing Intimacy in a Romance Novel Relationship part 2

Ideas for Developing Intimacy in a Romance Novel Relationship part 2
Last week I discussed behavioural scientist Desmond Morris’ proposed steps to intimacy. There are 12 but I only ran through the first 4. This week, we are moving along – steps 5 through 9.

Reminder - The couple I am referring to, for simplicity’s sake, is a man and a woman.  This plays out with either half of the couple starting first. I started with the male.
Quick review

1. Eye to body – This is the moment of discovery where one of the couple first sees the other.
2. Eye to eye – Eye contact is a very strong bond in humans.
3. Voice to voice – When speaking to the other, both must be in close proximity and this hints at intimacy.
4. Hand to hand/ arm – Allowing someone to touch us is showing acceptance and trust.

New ground - 

5. Arm to shoulder— hand to hand while close isn’t as intimate as wrapping an arm around someone’s shoulder. Each person has to be inside the other’s personal body space.
Classic example – teenager in a movie theatre – yawns, stretches and his arm accidently falls on girl’s shoulder. The next moment is crucial. Does she pretend to ignore it and allow it to stay? Does she giggle and smile at him? Or does she slap it away and throw her popcorn in his face?
Freezing this moment and letting the boy sweat it out while the girl ponders can create a nice moment of tension.

6. Arm to waist— Very intimate step which physically draws the couple closer.
To be able to wrap an arm around someone’s waist, the two people must be physically very close. This in itself implies intimacy. Allowing someone into the “zone of personal space” is an important moment.
And why specifically arm to waist? Because quite often in this position the couple’s hips will bump or rub together. The hips are in the pelvic region and that’s where the “action” happens. So allowing this contact signals future intentions.
If the female is feeling overwhelmed, rushed or is plain angry with the male, a quick pull away will clearly signal her dissatisfaction.
If the female doesn’t pull away, there is an opening to move to step 7

7. Mouth to mouth- The first kiss is a major event in a romance.
In a YA, this may be the first kiss for both people. The tension of nerves and fumblings to “get it right” will predict the future success of the couple. To go to the opposite genre, in an erotic romance, the sexual tension created by this moment could rush the couple through to step 12 in a matter of paragraphs.

8. Hand to head- A small gesture.

This can be portrayed as a romantic tender action or a dominating action – where the man is attempting to claim her as his.
Switching to a movie for a moment. Think of your favourite romantic movie. The scene where he places his hand/hands on her face/head and pulls her closer. That is a tiny moment with big importance. I always get a shiver when it happens. I think it is the eroticism of that gesture.  So while it may seem like an insignificant thing – it is a vital step. Linger on it. Let the reader revel in the moment.
The female’s reaction is crucial. Does she pull back from his touch or nestle her cheek into his hand? Or does she respond by placing her hands on him, possibly running her fingers through his hair. That would intensify the heat of the moment to slightly short of scorching.

9. Hand to body— This gesture is the clearly raising the heat level.
Yes, we mentioned body parts – hand to shoulder, arm to waist, but this is a more intimate touch. Does he caress her arm? Run his fingers up the side of her thigh.
It is also a great place to let the tension be interrupted by an outside source. He gazes into the heroine’s eyes. He trickles his fingers up her thigh. He leans closer to kiss her trembling lips. And the phone rings. Her husband walks in. The aliens land.
As an author, you’ve built the tension then snapped it with a twist. This allows you to rebuild the tension and push the couple even closer. There could have been some hesitancy on the female’s part and pushing the ultimate moment further away will give her time to explore her feelings about the hero.
Next week, the final steps to creating intimacy in a romance novel.

Was there a shiver moment in a romantic movie where you secretly wished it was you on that screen about to be swept away with passion? For me, it is usually that scene where the hero and heroine are facing each other staring lovingly into each other’s eyes then he reaches out and places his hand on her cheek. I usually sigh into my popcorn.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Blog Look - No Cost Book

Happy dancing over the new look to my blog – so in celebration my latest – Circles Interlocked - is free today on KDP.

Once lovers, a ballerina and a former gang member reconnect but must still face the lie that broke them apart.

A free read is available on the tab above.

This is a wordle.  It is art made up of the words from the story.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ideas for Developing Intimacy in a Romance Novel Relationship part 1

A lot of you will sigh – not this topic again. But every so often writers need to be reminded of the basics. If you write romance in any genre then how to get your couples to fall in love is a pretty basic element.

Behavioural Scientist – Desmond Morris proposed these steps. In non-scientific language what he discovered was there are 12 steps/phases two people go through on the way to becoming a couple.

In this article I am going to run through stages 1 thru 3.  As a writer these are not hard and fast rules and some phases can pass quickly. How fast they “fall in love” or “fall into bed” then depends on the author.  Meeting in a bar on page 1 and having sex by page 3 can work, if the author generates enough heat in a short time between the characters. In other romances, it can take 15 to 20 chapters for the characters to get to the moment where one confesses their love for the other.

The first few phases are important. The two people (for simplicity’s sake, I will use a man and a woman) must become aware of each other.  This plays out with either half of the couple starting first. I started with the male.

1. Eye to body – 
This is the moment of discovery where one of the couple first sees the other.

A gentleman sits at a table glancing around a smoky crowded bar. A woman stops to chat with friends a few feet away. The man sees her. His gaze floats up and down her body. He’s looking for a potential mate/lover/one night stand. He’s checking to see if she fits his standards. 

 If she has a third leg growing out of her back and is covered in oozing sores, she’ll probably be eliminated as a candidate. If she passes inspection, he is ready to move on to phase two.

2. Eye to eye – 

Eye contact is a very strong bond in humans.

The man will try and make eye contact with his selected target. If he catches her eye - 1 of two things will happen – she will accept his look or reject it.

The woman sees the man is looking at her and she must, almost instantly, make the decision to accept his look or not.

A rejection on her part could be a roll of the eyes, toss of the head or turning her attention back to her friends. The male then has the option of giving up or reattempting contact.
An acceptance of his look can be brazen – a staring contest between the two or a shy peek, look away and peek again.

In our scenario, he catches her attention. She meets his eye contact and doesn’t look away. Success – the two people are aware of each other and have given the signal to move to the next step.

3. Voice to voice –
They need to get past a huge barrier here. Eye contact can be made across a football field. But to hear someone speak a person must be closer (using a bull horn doesn’t count!) and moving close starts to hint at intimacy.

He approaches and speaks – this moment is important – does he have the smoothest pick up line ever said or does he blow it with “What’s a nice girl like you….”

Her reaction again can be accept or reject.  If she rejects, he starts back at number 1. If she accepts and responds to his greeting then usually there is an introduction. The simple act of greeting and saying the other character’s name is very intimate. Our name defines us and allowing someone to use greet us by our name forms a subtle bond.

This is a prime opportunity to let the character’s personality shine through – good or bad. While the characters are “testing the waters”, the reader can discover personality quirks.

4. Hand to hand/ arm – 
Allowing someone to touch us is showing acceptance and trust.

This first touch can easily be hurried by having one of the partners trip into the other or be pushed etc.  If the male is pushed forward and falls towards the female, she can catch him and help him stand. But if she rejects the contact, she can shove him away from her.  Or let him hit the floor.

If she or he is allowed to rest a hand on the other’s arm, it displays to onlookers that these 2 people are becoming a couple. They are starting to mark their territory.

Each step does not have to be marked out nor take a chapter to evolve. A man and woman at a party. A third person introduces them. In a moment they go from eye to body, eye to eye, hand to hand and voice to voice.  They stand facing each other as they are introduced. This is eye to body and eye to eye. They shake hands (hand to hand) possibly lingering at this moment while they greet and say each other’s name (voice to voice). Boom – in 90 seconds they are through 4 steps.

Tiny moments in a story that can help drive the romance forward.  Next week, I’ll discuss the next steps in building intimacy in your romance novel.

 Is there a first meeting moment in your life that’s not too embarrassing to share?
I really didn’t get a chance to go through steps 1 to 4 with my husband. We met in a judo class. It was during warm ups. A person went around the group and “threw” each person based on the command from the teacher.  Simple put downs for newbies. Future husband walked up, grabbed my shirt and I hit the mat. And to this day when people ask how we met I say – are you ready for it – you know it’s coming – I fell for him.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard when he lives in the jungle without a razor?

3 words - Suspension of disbelief. With a little help from the font of knowledge -Wikipedia – Suspension of disbelief - a formula for justifying the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literary works of fiction. Although I don't quite understand why they are just using literary works in their definition. TV and movies have us suspending our disbelief a lot more. (Have you watched the movie Inception?)

How many of you have sat through a "Tarzan" movie and never wondered why the hero is clean-shaven, decently groomed hair and smells remarkably unlike a barnyard? And the heroine has 14 changes of clothes from a tiny suitcase that broke open then washed up on shore. As the viewer, you may have scoffed at it; even leaned over to the person next to you and commented on it. But did it destroy you pleasure in viewing the movie? Probably not.

In writing, the obvious suspension of disbelief (SOD) would occur in paranormal books. Vampires, werewolves etc mingling with present day humans, owning cell phones and driving cars. Or in sci-fi books where aliens transport to Earth and live unseen among us.

But I'm talking about SOD in contemporary books. Any contemporary book has the disadvantage of the critiquer, editor or reader all living in the same era and potentially experiencing the same things. Therefore, they put their opinions on their SOD.

To cite a bizarre example. Say the book you are reading is an action war drama. The hero and his platoon are caught in a vicious firefight. The soldiers are pinned down and are being wounded or killed every few moments. Their bullets seem to miss their targets but the enemy's fire is getting through. You are willing to believe the disconnect of the gunfire as the writer has gripped your attention with the sounds and smells of the scene. Then the enemy suddenly stands up and starts singing and dancing the latest routine from Glee.

You might keep reading. Overwhelming curiosity might prod you into seeing if the writer can pull such a scene flip off or you might toss the book aside and go for a long walk. Why? From general knowledge, the enemy doesn't usually dance during battle. I studied history and I don't recollect my professors ever mentioning this. So your perception of life affected your suspension of disbelief. Maybe there is some Amazonian tribe that does this – to confuse the enemy. And if you had heard about that tribe then you might read the scene without a second thought.

What is this leading to? When editing or critiquing someone's one work be aware of your bias. Before you highlight a section and comment – Why did the character do this? or This is too out of character for this person? – think about why the author might have chosen their character to do this? Remember you are reading with a tight focus and a problem presented does not have to be explained immediately. Let the writer and the characters get to it.

A few years ago, I had a small scene in a chapter ripped apart by a critique partner. She went on for half a page as to why the scene was wrong and why the character wouldn't do "it". Yet, I wrote the scene from true life. Then, as it happened, it was as irritating and confusing as it turned out in the book. When I thanked the critique partner for her efforts, I politely commented that the scene that so riled her was an actual event. She refused to believe me and said that it ruined the story for her.

Sadly being an inexperienced writer, I modified the scene, even though 4 other critiquers had no problem with the section. But that suggests a later post of "sticking to your guns."

Critiquing or editing is a hard task. But we must do it without letting our personal bias cloud our efforts.

Is there a moment when you just couldn't take a book, movie or TV show anymore? Your suspension of disbelief was shot. Mine was the movie Centerstage. I have some experience as a dancer and in the movie, a ballerina with no jazz dance training takes her first jazz dance class. When they get to the choreography part of class, she watches the males do their section of the routine, then she scurries to the front of the group and leads them in a routine she has never seen before. I almost threw my popcorn at the screen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Excerpt from Circles Interlocked

Chapter One
Five years - Julie hadn't seen or thought about him in all that time, and now in the middle of nowhere, he stood on the beach drying off from a swim. Droplets flew as Robert shook his hair. His black mane was shorter than the last time she saw him. The wet ends dripped water on his bare, muscular shoulders. Tricia, an old high school friend once said he had the body of a male stripper - time hadn't changed that.
Julie stepped back onto the beach path, transfixed by the sight of the one person she hated. Her repulsion and loathing of him ran so deep; she'd repressed all memories of him. She thought he'd loved her, and had taken a chance, opening up her heart and body to him. But instead of returning her love, he proved himself worthy of the gutter from which he'd crawled.
Her body said run, but her feet refused to move as she watched a long-legged, svelte, golden blonde rise from the beach chair. She trickled her fingers down his rippled stomach. His voice floated across the sand. It was a calming sound, which had brought a smile to Julie's face when he whispered words of love and passion.
Details she thought she'd long forgotten surged forward. She remembered the way his dark eyes smoldered with anger and his sly, innocent grin. His joyous laughter had made her feel the abandonment of a child frolicking in the year's first snowfall. She stepped backward onto the path, distancing herself from the lovers as the blonde undid the strings on her bathing suit top, and let it fall to the sand.
With an unexpected shiver, Julie hurried along the meandering path, and returned to the cottage, and to the man she accompanied - who was nothing like her betrayer. Vincent's sad brown eyes reminded her of a basset hound's - loyal and true.
"Julie." She looked toward Vincent standing on the deck. "Jean-Marc's on the phone. Shall I take a message?"
"No, I won't make him suffer. He has very few hairs left to pull out of his head." She took the cell phone and sat on a deck chair. "Hello, Jean-Marc."
"How's the knee?" he asked. As always, Jean-Marc, Artistic Director, was direct to the point.
"Have you been following your doctor's orders?"
"Yes, all I've done is sit on the deck, stare at the ocean and get fat. We leave this afternoon, and if the doctor says everything's okay, I'll be back on Tuesday. Sound good?"
"Great. Bye."
She placed the cell phone on the table, and the other slid down to her knee. Two weeks ago, it was grotesque and painful. During a simple rehearsal, Julie posed in an elegant arabesque held tall on her pointe. Her leg was lifted high above her head, back arched, and her arms suspended in the air, as if frozen in time. Until she collapsed on the floor.
At first, only her dignity was hurt. Then the pain shot from her knee to her brain. The doctor said she was lucky there was no serious damage He urged her to take a vacation to let the knee mend.
Julie gazed out at the ocean listening to the waves splash against the shore. Had it really been that long ago? Five years since she'd left her friends, her family and the longhaired, scruffy guy who snuck his way into her heart. Notorious gang member or not, he still portrayed a sense of vulnerability and innocence. Then in true gang style, he stabbed her heart - figuratively. She shook her head. "No, don't think of him."
"Hmm?" Vincent peered over the top of his Financial Post.
"Nothing, just mumbling to myself. I can't get over this view." Julie waved a hand toward the ocean and inhaled the headiness of the salty air, sighing in contentment.
Now, it was time to get back to the harsh realities of daily class, rehearsals and performances. She was a dancer, and that's what she must do – not lie on the beach making love. She slapped the wooden arms of the deck chair, stood and followed Vincent into what he called a rustic little thing tucked among the trees.
"Which would you prefer?" He held out two plates. On each was a light meal of vegetables, a creamy dip, fruit wedges and low-fat cheese. Julie carried hers to the dining room where she found a pitcher of ice tea and a tray of crackers.
"Rustic little cottage. The dining room seats eight. It has five bedrooms, four baths, and you could roast a pig in the fireplace." Her gaze settled on the expanse of sand and seawater that stretching to the horizon. "But you could begin to believe you're the only person alive. So different from my life at home - people at rehearsal and hundreds of people in the audience. It was nice to be alone, just you and I. If only for a little while." She turned to face Vincent. "Hello? Humph, I make a great impassioned speech about my place in the universe, and I'm talking to myself."
"Pardon?" Vincent entered the room and sat at the far head of the table. "I'm sorry I didn't realize you were speaking to me. Please, continue." He folded his hands.
Julie dipped a broccoli bud into the dressing. "Short version, it's been a great week."
Vincent nodded. "It'll be great to get back to work."
"You never left work." She raised her broccoli and shook it at him. "If you weren't texting someone, you were calling them."
"I can't be expected to be away from work for a whole week. I'm the boss." Vincent straightened his linen napkin. "But I did this for you. And look at you - all tanned and healed. I've a notion you're biting at the chance to get back to work."
Julie munched a carrot stick and stared out the window.
With the last bit of lunch consumed, Vincent carried the remains of the meal to the kitchen. Julie wandered back to her deck chair, and let the warmth of the sun relax her soul. Immobile, she listened to the clatter of Vincent as he cleaned the few dishes they had dirtied.
Bartholomew, Vincent's personal assistant/body guard, had been sent back to open the estate, and now Vincent's compulsion for neatness forced him to assume butler duties. "Robert wouldn't have done that." Julie lurched up clamping her hand over her mouth.

to continue the free read - click on link under the banner.

to purchase - click on link at right of blog - Circles interlocked is only available on KDP.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Circles Interlocked

Yesterday, Circles Interlocked went up on KDP.
For a lot of reasons and from reading pros and cons from other writer's experiences, I decided this was the best place to put my book.
If anybody has a moment to go "Like" it please do so.
Also to celebrate - Circles Interlocked is free for today – April 12.

Once lovers, a ballerina and a former gang member reconnect but must still face the lie that broke them apart.

Thank you.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A quick tip to help self-editing

When I was in first year university I took a Kinesiology course and with professor who'd been nicknamed Basic Bob. Why you ask? Because basically Basic Bob could stick the basic word basic into a basic spot in any basic sentence that he basically wanted to. We would leave a lecture with pages of notes and every other word was basic. By the end of the term, the word had insidiously crept into my vocabulary. It took focused effort not to use it.

What is this leading to? I knew about verbal over-used words or go-to words, but I didn't make the jump to they could also be evident in my writing. I read a blog to help in self-editing. It suggested keeping an eye out for certain over-used words.

I decided to highlight them -"just" in yellow, "that" in green, "then" in blue and "was" in pink. I knew there'd be a couple. I wasn't worried. Can I just say – OMG! I was horrified when I scrolled through my chapter.

I'm a panster. When I write I go with it. Get the words on the page. If I stop to edit I feel like my train of thought will stop, so I type away. I know my go-to words are there, but I have developed a solution. When a chapter is done, I paste my edit list at the top and then highlight all the go-to words, passive verbs, conjunctions, ly adverbs and other things I've learned to look out for. My chapter tends to look like someone threw a couple of handfuls of ice cream sprinkles on it, but I can easily see what needs to be reworked and edited out. It's not a perfect system but it helps me.

I thought I might share part of my list:
Watch out for the over use of -
!!!!! (I love exclamations points)

Major look- out- fors - was, were - could indicate passive (especially was ____ing), had, have, could, would, should, just, then, that (if the sentence works without the "that" – remove it)

Initial conjunctions - (It isn't wrong to start with initial conjunctions - just don't overdo it.) MAIN ONES - as, if, until, how, when, after. There is a huge list – just google it.

Weak words – see, saw, feel, feeling, felt, smell, taste, knew, know

Passive verbs - is, are, was, was being, has been, had been, being, may be (not maybe), will be, must have been, might have been, is going to be, has to be, used to be, can be and by

Telling verbs - he watched, he saw, he felt, he thought

Put into contractions - not, is, are, am, had, have, will, would, should, could

Word list - seemed, start, very, once, again, began, beginning, noticed, after, always, already, even, fast, quick, quite (there are actually 67 words on this list – but these are the ones I find I use the most.)

Ly adverbs - (softly, quietly, slowly, quickly…)

I am not saying NEVER use these words, just be aware of how many times. 83 uses of the word that in one chapter might be a bit too many. Just saying.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ecopy of Circles Interlocked goes to.....

Sherry was the Hoppy Easter blog hop winner of an ecopy of Circles Interlocked.

Her copy has been mailed to her.

The correct answers were -
1. Who is The Velveteen Rabbit
2. Who is The White Rabbit
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
4. What is Pink
5. Who are Babs and Buster
Bonus – Who is Killer?

Thank you to everyone who everyone who commented.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Circles Interlocked - Birthday Bloghop recipient

Lauren Mackesy won an ecopy of Circles Interlocked form Carrie's Birthday blog hop.

The copy has already been emailed to her.