Romance Writing Tips: Are You Writing In The Right Subgenre?

By Cynthia Sax on November 27, 2017

2017 has been a tough year for many Romance writers. Sales have been challenged. Some reading buddies have been concentrating on other things (like politics). A few writing buddies are considering leaving this otherwise wonderful profession. They’re thinking about taking a break or walking away from it completely.

Before you make that decision, I hope you will ask yourself one additional question.

Am I writing in the right subgenre of romance?

When I started writing, I was told to write what I loved. I loved Regency Romances. I read all types of romances but that was my favorite subgenre at that time. I wrote a massive, absolutely awful Regency Romance. I had fun writing it. I thought it was good (at the time).

I sent it to an editor-for-hire who specialized in Historical Romances. He read it (winces) and then asked me what research I did for this story. I hadn’t done any. He asked me if I was interested in historical research. Other than the history of warfare, I’m not very interested in historical research. I certainly didn’t have an interest in gowns or food or any of those tiny yet important details.

He then asked why I was writing Historical Romance if I didn’t like a huge component of it. (He also said I didn’t have the voice for it but that’s an entire different post.)

That was the last Historical Romance I’ve ever written. It is the wrong subgenre for me. I could have forced myself to do the research and, if I had worked hard at it, I likely could have written an okay story.

But there’s no place in this crowded market for okay stories. And there’s no need to write okay stories, not if we can write wonderful stories, stories we were meant to write.

I explored a few more subgenres. Writing these stories was a blast. Some of them were published and reading buddies seemed to enjoy them.

Then I had a string of writing business disasters (almost all involved publishers). Combine that with not yet having a breakout hit and I was seriously considering writing only for me. Writers write. That is what we do. We don’t have to publish those stories, however. That’s a choice.

I wrote Releasing Rage for me. I poured all of my emotions and many of the things I loved into that story. Out of pure curiosity, I had previously talked with scientists and entrepreneurs about cyborgs, how they could be mass produced, how they could possibly have babies, etc. (Looking back, this was an obvious clue that maybe I should be writing Cyborg Romance. – grins) As I mentioned, I have a love for the history of warfare (especially strategy) and I incorporated that. I enjoy writing fight scenes and put some of those scenes into the story. There was sex, of course. I love writing sex scenes. I didn’t have any explosions in Releasing Rage but the potential was there.

Cyborg and SciFi Romance has everything I love writing in it and I don’t think it is a coincidence that this was the subgenre in which I finally found some reading buddies. There were other factors (like two of the top writers in Cyborg Romance being on a break) but being in the right subgenre definitely helped.

It also made me happier as a writer. I was writing what I loved to write, had found a place in Romanceland in which I fit. That’s magical and will likely sustain me when I go through another dry sales spell (because that WILL happen – it happens to every writer).

Before quitting or taking a break from the writing, consider looking at what you love to write, what you research for fun, what people say you write well, what you feel genuine joy writing. Are all of those components valued by reading buddies in a certain subgenre? Is that the subgenre in which you’re currently writing? If it isn’t, maybe that’s the true issue. Or maybe it isn’t but isn’t it worth at least investigating?

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Seeking Vector

A cyborg with a secret… A female seeking the truth…

Vector, the C Model captain of the Freedom, is a cyborg many warriors wish to emulate. He fights fiercely, leads with honor, has earned the respect and loyalty of his crew. But no being, not even a cyborg, is perfect. Since arriving at the Homeland, Vector has been hiding a dark truth about his past. If his secret is exposed, he could lose everything – his position, his ship, and his life.

Kasia excels at uncovering secrets. Half a lifespan ago, her curiosity placed her on the Humanoid Alliance’s kill list. Now she has accessed information the cyborg council would prefer remain hidden. Their warriors are hunting her and won’t rest until she’s dead.

When Vector arrives on her battle station, all grim determination, gray skin, and bulging muscles, Kasia knows he has been sent to kill her. That doesn’t stop her from wanting the dominant cyborg. She senses the savage nature under the male’s controlled exterior, sees the mysteries in his brilliant blue eyes, craves the roughness of his touch. She will risk all she has to experience his embrace.

Kasia braved the cyborg council’s ire for a reason. If she doesn’t convince Vector to act on the information she uncovered, the enemy could destroy his home planet and render every cyborg in the universe immobile.

Can a doubting C Model warrior learn to trust and to love before it is too late?

Seeking Vector is Book 10 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STAND-ALONE story.
It is also a Cyborg SciFi Romance.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seeking-vector/id1280185990

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seeking-vector-cynthia-sax/1127072529

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seeking-vector

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746717

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

Writing Tips: When Should You Re-Read Your Manuscript?

By Cynthia Sax on November 1, 2017

Note: As always, this is my opinion. You are a different person, a different writer. If my advice doesn’t make sense to you, please don’t take it.

Reading should be fun. We should also enjoy reading our own stories.

By the time, my stories are loaded at the booksellers, I would fiercely disagree with both of these sentences. I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a fork than re-read my story one more time.

Why?

Because I have already read it dozens of times. Sometimes I’ve read my story four times in the same day. I enjoy my stories but I don’t enjoy any story THAT much.

During Drafts

I read my stories in their entirety after each draft. That’s a given. Flow and emotion build between sentences, paragraphs, scenes are so important. These are best refined with full read throughs.

Editing

But after I send my story to my awesome editor, I only look at the suggested changes, right?

Nope.

I recommend reading the ENTIRE story after each round of edits. It is easy for sentences, paragraphs, scenes to be completely deleted during the editing process. All it takes is a cat walking across the keyboard or incompatible versions of Word or the track changes feature malfunctioning.

It also requires multiple sets of eyes to catch all typos. As writers, our names are on the cover and we’re responsible for the quality of our stories. Not our editors. Not our publishers. We are. Even with three plus rounds of edits and multiple sets of eyes, we won’t find all of the typos but we CAN try.

Formatting

The formatting stage is a dangerous time for our stories. Whether we format our stories ourselves (I don’t) or someone else (including a publisher) does this for us, errors can happen. HUGE errors.

Maybe all fonts disappear. Maybe the wrong writer’s name is on the copyright page (yikes!). Maybe paragraphs are accidentally deleted. A huge New York Publisher once deleted an entire chapter from one of my stories during the formatting process. No one, except me, noticed this.

Again, our names are on the covers so I suggest asking for a final formatted copy of the story before it is loaded at booksellers.

If there are multiple formats, I review each one, verifying that everything is okay. It is a pain in the ass and it takes time but these are our stories. They deserve that time.

Loading At Booksellers

This is another stage where I re-read my stories. I can’t do this when I work with a publisher. I have to trust they have someone completing this task for me (whispers – they usually don’t).

When I am self-pubbing a story, however, I always read the story from first page to the last page after loading it at booksellers. Again, I check links and copyright information and ensure all words are there.

Both Amazon and Smashwords give us options to look at our stories after we load them. We’re not given these options for fun. Booksellers expect us to do exactly this – verify our stories have been loaded correctly and can be read on their eReaders. We can’t test it on every eReader (that would require having every eReader) but at least we can assure ourselves the story works with one eReader, our own.

One of the many reasons I like pre-orders is I can review the stories before they go live, before readers see them. Because, yes, stories can load incorrectly.

When The Story Releases

I also always buy/pre-order copies of my own book and I’ll look at them quickly on release day. I might not have time to fully re-read them (because release days are hectic) but I will scan through the stories, ensure there’s actually a story and the bookseller didn’t send a blank file to reading buddies.

That happens. Frequently. The sooner we catch this issue and tell readers, the less one star reviews we’ll receive for this bookseller error.

At what stages do you re-read your stories? What kind of errors have you caught on re-reads?

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Seeking Vector

A cyborg with a secret… A female seeking the truth…

Vector, the C Model captain of the Freedom, is a cyborg many warriors wish to emulate. He fights fiercely, leads with honor, has earned the respect and loyalty of his crew. But no being, not even a cyborg, is perfect. Since arriving at the Homeland, Vector has been hiding a dark truth about his past. If his secret is exposed, he could lose everything – his position, his ship, and his life.

Kasia excels at uncovering secrets. Half a lifespan ago, her curiosity placed her on the Humanoid Alliance’s kill list. Now she has accessed information the cyborg council would prefer remain hidden. Their warriors are hunting her and won’t rest until she’s dead.

When Vector arrives on her battle station, all grim determination, gray skin, and bulging muscles, Kasia knows he has been sent to kill her. That doesn’t stop her from wanting the dominant cyborg. She senses the savage nature under the male’s controlled exterior, sees the mysteries in his brilliant blue eyes, craves the roughness of his touch. She will risk all she has to experience his embrace.

Kasia braved the cyborg council’s ire for a reason. If she doesn’t convince Vector to act on the information she uncovered, the enemy could destroy his home planet and render every cyborg in the universe immobile.

Can a doubting C Model warrior learn to trust and to love before it is too late?

Seeking Vector is Book 10 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STAND-ALONE story.
It is also a Cyborg SciFi Romance.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seeking-vector/id1280185990

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seeking-vector-cynthia-sax/1127072529

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seeking-vector

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746717

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

Writing Tips: How Quickly We Write

By Cynthia Sax on October 25, 2017


It is almost November, which means it is almost time for National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, a challenge for writers to write 50,000 fresh words in a month. Some writing buddies won’t ‘win’ this challenge (like me – I have NEVER won NaNoWriMo). Some writing buddies will ‘win’ this challenge in the first two days.

Is Faster Better?

There’s a perception in Writingland that faster is better. I agree. Faster IS better. The faster we complete a story we’re proud to share with readers, the sooner those readers can enjoy the story and we can focus on another story.

Notice this is COMPLETING a story we’re PROUD to share.

It isn’t writing speed. Writing speed means very little. I write a first draft of a 56,000 word story in a month. It takes me another month to revise it (six rounds, at the minimum). If you write a first draft of a 56,000 word story in two months and it’s clean, ready for readers, your speed to complete a story you’re proud to share is the same as mine.

Talk during NaNoWriMo normally revolves around writing speed. Don’t compare yourself against others for this (or, IMHO, any other aspect of writing). Compare against yourself. Can you complete the same quality of first draft in less days? Great.

Or maybe not-so-great. If you burn out and then you have to take more time off than you usually do, that’s not a ‘win.’ Again, it is about how long it takes us to complete a story we’re proud to share with readers.


Pacing Ourselves

My most efficient pace is writing 2,500 new words a day Monday to Friday and then taking the weekend off (to do things like write blog posts, respond to messages, fill out cover/formatting forms, etc).

But-But-But wouldn’t I complete the story faster if I wrote EVERY day?

Nope. If I tried to write every day, with no breaks, I would burn out and then have to take MORE time off than 2 days after 5 days writing. This also happens when I binge write. If I write 5,000 new words in a day, I’m usually burned out for three days after that. I find it more challenging to get back into the story after that ‘break.’

So I force myself to quit at 2,500 words every day and to take the weekends off. This is what works for me. Some of my writing buddies binge write. They NEED to write the entire story in mere days. That works for them. Others NEED to write every day. That is their optimal schedule.

The NaNoWriMo system will give you a target word count to meet every day. This is merely the number of words you have left to write to hit 50,000 words divided by the number of days you have left in November. It is a guideline, not what you SHOULD do.

If you’re just starting out on this wonderful writing journey and you haven’t yet found your optimal schedule, consider trying the system schedule. If it doesn’t work, try something else. It took me years to figure out my schedule. It took some fortunate writing buddies one shot. When you find your groove, stick to it until it no longer works for you.

Writing buddies, have you found your optimal writing schedule? What is it?

Note: Even though I never win NaNoWriMo and I stick to my optimal schedule, I still participate in it. I love the daily emails and the party aspect of it. There are so few group activities for writers. NaNoWriMo is one of those.

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Seeking Vector

A cyborg with a secret… A female seeking the truth…

Vector, the C Model captain of the Freedom, is a cyborg many warriors wish to emulate. He fights fiercely, leads with honor, has earned the respect and loyalty of his crew. But no being, not even a cyborg, is perfect. Since arriving at the Homeland, Vector has been hiding a dark truth about his past. If his secret is exposed, he could lose everything – his position, his ship, and his life.

Kasia excels at uncovering secrets. Half a lifespan ago, her curiosity placed her on the Humanoid Alliance’s kill list. Now she has accessed information the cyborg council would prefer remain hidden. Their warriors are hunting her and won’t rest until she’s dead.

When Vector arrives on her battle station, all grim determination, gray skin, and bulging muscles, Kasia knows he has been sent to kill her. That doesn’t stop her from wanting the dominant cyborg. She senses the savage nature under the male’s controlled exterior, sees the mysteries in his brilliant blue eyes, craves the roughness of his touch. She will risk all she has to experience his embrace.

Kasia braved the cyborg council’s ire for a reason. If she doesn’t convince Vector to act on the information she uncovered, the enemy could destroy his home planet and render every cyborg in the universe immobile.

Can a doubting C Model warrior learn to trust and to love before it is too late?

Seeking Vector is Book 10 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STAND-ALONE story.
It is also a Cyborg SciFi Romance.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seeking-vector/id1280185990

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seeking-vector-cynthia-sax/1127072529

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seeking-vector

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746717

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

Writing Tip: Character Secrets and Leaving Breadcrumbs

By Cynthia Sax on October 11, 2017

All characters have secrets. Heck, all people have secrets. Part of the fun for me, as a reader, is trying to figure out a character’s secret. I’ll turn the virtual page merely to find that out.

When I was a newer writer, I thought I had to keep everything about this secret hush-hush. I wrote the secret as a total surprise to reading buddies.

The problem with that is… it squashes the fun of trying to guess the secret. We, readers, need hints to guess a secret. We need to know the character HAS a secret.

It also isn’t realistic. A character’s secret is part of him (I’ll use he/him in this post because I’m lazy but the character, of course, could be any sex). The character will have a reaction whenever he thinks of his secret. He’ll become nervous or upset if he’s in a situation that reminds him of his secret. He’ll react badly when the other characters are discussing something that might reveal his secret.

So writers leave, what I call, breadcrumbs throughout the story until it is time to reveal the secret. These clues can range from

“Bob had a secret and no one would ever learn it.” <– This is about as obvious as a writer can be.

To

“Bob walked into the space and all chatter stopped. They’d been yammering on about the Alpha 5 mission. He knew that deep down in his guilt-twisted gut.”

To

“Bob completed his sixth perimeter check of the shift. It was five more than mandatory but he knew, from bitter experience, one wasn’t sufficient to keep anyone safe.”

To

“Bob swept his fingers over the four dog tags he wore, his lips flattening.”

These breadcrumbs don’t have to be all different. Repetition is powerful. The first time Bob touches his dog tags after making a mistake could be a coincidence. The third time he does this communicates significance.

Some writers like to leave bigger breadcrumbs as the secret reveal approaches. This makes sense as the character will become more nervous and more focused on his secret as he mentally prepares to share it with his love interest.

Longer stories will naturally result in more hints being left for reading buddies. The character with the secret will think of it more often in a 400 page story than he would in a 40 page story.

The character shouldn’t ALWAYS be thinking about his secret, however. His secret is an object of shame, of pain. He’ll do his best to avoid thinking about it, push it to the back of his mind. And, as writers, we don’t want to hit our readers over the head with the secret.

It is a delicate balance. We don’t want reading buddies to guess the secret early yet we want them, during the secret reveal, to say, “Of COURSE, that’s his secret! I should have known that.”

I rely on my awesome editor to tell me if I’m being too heavy-handed or holding too much back. Other writing buddies use their beta readers for that feedback. It is very difficult for us to judge this for ourselves.

Those are my tips on writing character secrets. Do you have any questions or any insights you’d like to add?

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Seeking Vector

A cyborg with a secret… A female seeking the truth…

Vector, the C Model captain of the Freedom, is a cyborg many warriors wish to emulate. He fights fiercely, leads with honor, has earned the respect and loyalty of his crew. But no being, not even a cyborg, is perfect. Since arriving at the Homeland, Vector has been hiding a dark truth about his past. If his secret is exposed, he could lose everything – his position, his ship, and his life.

Kasia excels at uncovering secrets. Half a lifespan ago, her curiosity placed her on the Humanoid Alliance’s kill list. Now she has accessed information the cyborg council would prefer remain hidden. Their warriors are hunting her and won’t rest until she’s dead.

When Vector arrives on her battle station, all grim determination, gray skin, and bulging muscles, Kasia knows he has been sent to kill her. That doesn’t stop her from wanting the dominant cyborg. She senses the savage nature under the male’s controlled exterior, sees the mysteries in his brilliant blue eyes, craves the roughness of his touch. She will risk all she has to experience his embrace.

Kasia braved the cyborg council’s ire for a reason. If she doesn’t convince Vector to act on the information she uncovered, the enemy could destroy his home planet and render every cyborg in the universe immobile.

Can a doubting C Model warrior learn to trust and to love before it is too late?

Seeking Vector is Book 10 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STAND-ALONE story.
It is also a Cyborg SciFi Romance.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seeking-Vector-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B075FHBW87/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seeking-vector/id1280185990

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seeking-vector-cynthia-sax/1127072529

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seeking-vector

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746717

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

The Success File For Writers

By Cynthia Sax on August 29, 2017


This wonderful career can be challenging. I published my stories for years without breaking even financially. Some stories I spent months crafting were enjoyed by less than 10 readers. There are rejections at every stage of writing and this doesn’t stop after finding ‘success.’ Big names still get rejections and bad reviews and nasty messages.

This is why I believe it is VERY important to celebrate our successes.

Celebrate Everything

Finished a chapter? Celebrate that! Finished a first draft? Celebrate! Finished edits? DEFINITELY a reason for celebration (and heavy drinking). Sold a book? Celebrate! Every step is worthy of celebration. It is bringing us closer to our goals (whatever those goals are).

I like to post my ‘successes’ on Facebook. Writing it down makes it feel more real for me. Many of my friends have stood by my side for years. They know how important these benchmarks are and they’re happy for me.

Sure, sometimes someone will post something grumpy. I tend to respond with, “You’re my friend. I know you’re happy for me.” (This immediately makes ME feel better about the grumpy comment.) True friends will feel happy for us. We might be also envious of your success but that envy is about us, not about you and your success. We’re thrilled for you.

Seeing other writers’ successes pushes me to reach my own benchmarks. I always write faster when I hear someone else has had a great writing day. So these posts don’t just benefit you. They benefit others.

Create A Success File

I also have a success file or a kudos file or whatever you wish to call it. Every time I receive positive feedback or an awesome review or anything that makes me feel great about my stories and my writing, I copy the information and put it in a Word file.

When the dark days full of doubt come (and they WILL come), this file is what keeps me writing. I peruse it and I get that passion back. This file is what pushed me forward when I was losing money year after year. If it weren’t for this file, I wouldn’t have made it through that disastrous fifth year, the year everything that could possibly go wrong did.

Think you don’t have anything to celebrate? Well, you made it to the end of this blog post, didn’t you? That means today you read a post about writing. You have one more tool in your toolbox. Congrats! That’s worthy of a celebration!

Enjoy this wonderful career as much as possible. Celebrate and revisit your successes!

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Dark Flight

His mission. His challenge. His forever.

Orol, the Refuge’s second-in-command, has been given what he believes is a simple mission—escort two human females to the settlement. The winged warrior arrives at the meeting site to find one of the females missing and the other aiming a gun at his head. To rescue the first, he must capture the second. Once he has Rhea in his talons, however, he realizes he never wants to let her go.

Her enemy. Her captor. Her everything.

Rhea doesn’t trust anyone. She certainly doesn’t follow commands issued by a gorgeous flying male with glittering eyes, a beautiful face, and a seductive touch. Orol is dominant, edged with darkness, and determined to find her sister. Rhea will do anything to prevent that, even if it means playing sensual games of submission with her powerful enemy, seducing him into forgetting everything except her.

Dark Flight is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance set in a gritty, dark world.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-flight/id1242494643

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-flight-cynthia-sax/1126484675

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-flight-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727350

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

Talking Cyborgs With Shelley Munro

By Cynthia Sax on August 20, 2017

The always awesome Shelley Munro has interviewed me!

Here’s a snippet…

“Shelley Munro – If a reader visits your Facebook page they soon learn you have a great sense of humor and a sense of fun (plus an awesome hubby!) yet your writing is quite dark. How do you explain that and what attracts you over to the dark side?

Cynthia Sax – I am fascinated with military history (if we don’t learn from history, we tend to repeat it) and I really wanted to tell the story of the cyborgs starting when they rebelled against their manufacturers. The cyborgs were created to fight wars. Any rebellion would happen during wartime and be quite violent. To make this series light in tone wouldn’t be true to the setting and would diminish what today’s warriors are experiencing.

But there IS humor and, of course, happy endings (for main characters and for past couples – everyone else is at risk). Humor is a survival tactic we see employed even during our darkest times. It is one of our great strengths.”

Read the full interview here: https://shelleymunro.com/blog/2017/08/19/interview-with-cynthia-sax-scifi-cyborgs-cynthiasax/

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Dark Flight

His mission. His challenge. His forever.

Orol, the Refuge’s second-in-command, has been given what he believes is a simple mission—escort two human females to the settlement. The winged warrior arrives at the meeting site to find one of the females missing and the other aiming a gun at his head. To rescue the first, he must capture the second. Once he has Rhea in his talons, however, he realizes he never wants to let her go.

Her enemy. Her captor. Her everything.

Rhea doesn’t trust anyone. She certainly doesn’t follow commands issued by a gorgeous flying male with glittering eyes, a beautiful face, and a seductive touch. Orol is dominant, edged with darkness, and determined to find her sister. Rhea will do anything to prevent that, even if it means playing sensual games of submission with her powerful enemy, seducing him into forgetting everything except her.

Dark Flight is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance set in a gritty, dark world.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-flight/id1242494643

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-flight-cynthia-sax/1126484675

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-flight-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727350

Topics: Guest Post | No Comments »

Collateral Beauty And Money As Motivation

By Cynthia Sax on August 19, 2017

Note: There will be spoilers of this wonderful movie in this post. Please don’t read it if you haven’t watched Collateral Beauty.

The wealthy hero and the struggling heroine trope has dipped in popularity recently but it will never disappear. These stories have been told long before Pride And Prejudice was published and will outlast all of us, even the cyborgs.

The key to writing this trope well is the motivation for the struggling heroine. That appears easy. It’s money, right?

Nope. It’s not money.

In one of the first stories I wrote, the heroine and hero went on a treasure hunt. The prize was… well… treasure—gold coins. I entered that story in a writing contest ( http://torontoromancewriters.com/enter/contest/ ) and I received, in return, a brilliant piece of writing (and life) advice well worth the entry fee.

Money isn’t ever the true motivation for our characters. Their motivation is what they believe the money will bring them.

I rewrote the story with the prize being a house both of the characters considered to be theirs and the story was MUCH stronger. Two people were competing for the same home.

The Dear Wonderful Hubby and I watched Collateral Beauty last night. This was a beautiful, emotional movie. I cried hard and was thoroughly (and surprisingly) entertained. I loved it.

One of the things this movie did wonderfully well was give each character strong motivation for their actions.

At first, the three business partners appeared to be taking extreme action because they wanted cash. I rolled my eyes at this. The greedy business man or woman is such a cliché. It is lazy writing, the characters cardboard and predictable.

But then the characters revealed they had three very different, very strong, very emotional reasons for wanting that money.

One partner’s ex-wife is dating a wealthy new boyfriend. This boyfriend is showering the partner’s daughter with expensive gifts. The partner thinks his relationship with his daughter is strained because he can’t match these gifts. He believes money will fix their problems.

Another partner wants a baby. She doesn’t have a love interest and would be having this baby on her own. That requires money—money for the medical procedures and money to allow her to take the time off work.

The third partner is dying. He has a wife he loves and a family he wants to take care of. The money will be his last and hopefully a lasting gift to them, a not-so-little thing this otherwise powerless character can do for the people he loves.

Bam! These are three powerful motivations for wanting money. The characters went from being cold and flat to being living, breathing people we can care about and cheer for.

Do this in a wealthy hero and struggling heroine romance and I’d happily read this trope over and over again. I’d love it.

Money isn’t ever the true motivation behind an action. Delve deeper.

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Dark Flight

His mission. His challenge. His forever.

Orol, the Refuge’s second-in-command, has been given what he believes is a simple mission—escort two human females to the settlement. The winged warrior arrives at the meeting site to find one of the females missing and the other aiming a gun at his head. To rescue the first, he must capture the second. Once he has Rhea in his talons, however, he realizes he never wants to let her go.

Her enemy. Her captor. Her everything.

Rhea doesn’t trust anyone. She certainly doesn’t follow commands issued by a gorgeous flying male with glittering eyes, a beautiful face, and a seductive touch. Orol is dominant, edged with darkness, and determined to find her sister. Rhea will do anything to prevent that, even if it means playing sensual games of submission with her powerful enemy, seducing him into forgetting everything except her.

Dark Flight is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance set in a gritty, dark world.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-flight/id1242494643

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-flight-cynthia-sax/1126484675

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-flight-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727350

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

Leave A Magical Moment Alone

By Cynthia Sax on August 15, 2017

Yes, I’m singing Billy Joel’s ‘Leave A Tender Moment Alone.’ (laughs)

I recently received the second round of edits for Seeking Vector, my October release, from my awesome editor ELF ( https://musingsbyelf.wordpress.com/ ). ELF loved the epilogue, told me it made her cry (which is a rare thing for editors). I immediately skipped to that chapter and re-read it. The temptation to tweak it was strong but I resisted that impulse.

Why did I stop myself from ‘improving’ the epilogue?

Because magical moments in our books are rare. They’re special, fragile, damn easy to destroy. One changed word can make them disappear. One added comma can throw off the pacing (and pacing is key for emotion).

I will correct spelling but, if a scene is magical, I’m very cautious about making other changes.

What is a magical scene?

I consider a magical scene to be one that makes the reader feel deeply in the way I intended them to feel. Clearly a reader laughing where she should be crying isn’t a great thing. I’ve done that. (sheepish grin) But if she laughs where I want her to laugh and cries where I want her to cry, THAT is wonderful.

That is also difficult to accomplish, which is why I leave those scenes alone.

That leads me to the next point.

You CAN over revise a story.

You know your routine better than anyone else and every writer is different but it IS possible to revise the magic right out of a story. I’ve added words and smoothed out sentences until all of the emotion was gone. Those stories are currently hidden under my bed and will never see the light of day.

This is why advice about the ‘right’ number of books to write in a year is so dangerous. If I wrote a story in two months and then spent ten more months revising it, that story would suck great hairy donkey balls. It might be perfect craft-wise but it would be emotionally flat.

That routine might work for another writer. It doesn’t work for me. It also doesn’t signify quality. Sometimes a scene is magical in the first hastily written draft. Sometimes a scene is magical after six rounds of editing. This is writing and there are no rules (and there is no logic to it either – grins).

If you’ve created a magical moment in your story, celebrate.

And leave that freakin’ scene alone.

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Dark Flight

His mission. His challenge. His forever.

Orol, the Refuge’s second-in-command, has been given what he believes is a simple mission—escort two human females to the settlement. The winged warrior arrives at the meeting site to find one of the females missing and the other aiming a gun at his head. To rescue the first, he must capture the second. Once he has Rhea in his talons, however, he realizes he never wants to let her go.

Her enemy. Her captor. Her everything.

Rhea doesn’t trust anyone. She certainly doesn’t follow commands issued by a gorgeous flying male with glittering eyes, a beautiful face, and a seductive touch. Orol is dominant, edged with darkness, and determined to find her sister. Rhea will do anything to prevent that, even if it means playing sensual games of submission with her powerful enemy, seducing him into forgetting everything except her.

Dark Flight is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance set in a gritty, dark world.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-flight/id1242494643

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-flight-cynthia-sax/1126484675

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-flight-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727350

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

Is There A Market For This Book?

By Cynthia Sax on August 11, 2017

I’ve seen quite a few posts lately from writers deep in the depths of despair because they want to write a certain type of story but have been told there is no market (i.e. readership) for it.

I want to set a romance in Thailand but I was told there’s no market for it.

I want to write a romance with an Irish heroine and a Chinese hero but I was told there’s no market for it.

I want to write a romance with a heroine who competes in marathons but I was told there’s no market for it.

I agree that having a market for a story is important. Very few of us want to spend months or years working on a story and have that story read by only three people. We want as many readers as possible for our beloved stories.

But our stories are more than the setting or the characters’ racial background or the characters’ jobs. We have our choice of what to focus on while marketing our stories.

Let’s look at our imaginary romance set in Thailand.

He’s a Navy SEAL, battered and scarred in a past mission, looking for redemption. She’s a virgin with a secret. (I’d say secret baby but she’s a virgin so…). There’s danger and an awesome baddie and hot scorching sex.

Why would we focus on the Thailand setting when promoting the story (to publishers or to reading buddies)? A romance with a Navy SEAL hero has a much bigger market. So does a romance with a virgin heroine. Sure, setting the story in Thailand makes the story special but hit folks with the things they already know they like first, and THEN mention the unique setting.

But-But-But my story doesn’t have any other marketable elements, you say.

Dig deeper because I suspect it does.

You wrote a romance. Is it love at first sight? A reunion love? Friends to lovers? Enemies to lovers? A workplace romance? Wrong bed (i.e mistaken identity)? A rebound relationship?

EVERY type of romantic hook up has a market. Almost every hero personality type has a market also (manwhore hero, geek hero, virgin hero, beast hero, iceman hero, etc). Tone has a market (comedy, sweet, sexy, dark, etc). If you study your story, you will likely find dozens of markets.

Note that I haven’t said ‘Rewrite your story.’ Whenever the topic of finding a market comes up, some writers push back and say their creativity can’t be constricted to a market. They don’t want to write generic cookie-cutter books.

Okay. Generic cookie-cutter books don’t sell. They’re boring and I don’t know any writer who writes these. And we’re talking marketing/promotion, not about the actual story. Write your non-traditional romance but consider marketing it first to readers who love non-traditional romances and second to readers who like heroines with gluten-free diets.

Which market should you focus on?

I look first and foremost at whether or not my story will make readers in my chosen markets happy. Does the story meet the readers’ expectations? Maybe my hero isn’t beastly enough to make the beast hero readers happy. But hey, he’s very much a virgin. He’ll make those readers ecstatic.

Then I look at the size of the market. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. If the market is too big, my story might get lost in it. On the other hand, if the market consists of two people, then I should directly contact those two people and forget the marketing. (grins) I like a happy medium.

I also consider the reading buddies I already know and love. Will this angle interest them? Clearly, if it is a cyborg romance, I will mention that first. Many of my reading buddies love cyborg romances.

This last point meshes with writer branding. If I want to be known as a writer of virgin heroines, for example, (whispers – I don’t) I will mention virgin heroines early in my marketing.

Having the right market for our stories doesn’t guarantee they will sell but it certainly does increase the odds. And hey, in this business, we need the best odds possible. (grins)

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Dark Flight

His mission. His challenge. His forever.

Orol, the Refuge’s second-in-command, has been given what he believes is a simple mission—escort two human females to the settlement. The winged warrior arrives at the meeting site to find one of the females missing and the other aiming a gun at his head. To rescue the first, he must capture the second. Once he has Rhea in his talons, however, he realizes he never wants to let her go.

Her enemy. Her captor. Her everything.

Rhea doesn’t trust anyone. She certainly doesn’t follow commands issued by a gorgeous flying male with glittering eyes, a beautiful face, and a seductive touch. Orol is dominant, edged with darkness, and determined to find her sister. Rhea will do anything to prevent that, even if it means playing sensual games of submission with her powerful enemy, seducing him into forgetting everything except her.

Dark Flight is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance set in a gritty, dark world.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-flight/id1242494643

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-flight-cynthia-sax/1126484675

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-flight-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727350

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

How To Ask For Writing Advice

By Cynthia Sax on August 4, 2017

Almost all of us are struggling with at least one writing related problem right now. (I know I am.) Thankfully, there’s at least one writer in Romanceland who has tackled that exact problem successfully. All we have to do is find her and ask her for advice. (This could be a him also but writing her/him all the time is tiring so let’s assume the writer is female. – grins)

The Question To Ask

I start with the question I want to ask. I make it as narrow as possible. Asking a writer how to write a book is a question that will take her ten years to answer. Asking a writer how to write a great first line for a cyborg romance is a question she can answer in an email.

I only ask questions I truly want answered. If I have already decided to write SciFi Romance, asking her if I should write Paranormal, Fantasy or SciFi Romance is wasting her time and will likely frustrate her (as she will know I’m not truly listening to her answer).

How To Find My Expert

Once I have figured out my question, I investigate whom I should ask.

It makes no sense to ask a contemporary romance writer how to write SciFi Romance. It also doesn’t make sense to ask a midlist writer how to break out of the midlist. Or a trad published writer how to self-publish.

If I want a range of answers, I might ask that question on a Yahoo or Facebook group relevant to my question. There are groups for every writer niche.

If I want a specific writer’s answer, I’ll reach out to her.

Should I Ask This Question Publicly Or Privately?

The more public the answer, the more generic and safe it usually is.

If I ask how much money writers make on their SciFi Romance releases in a group that is open to everyone, readers and writers, I will likely receive very vague answers. “I break even” or “I lose money on every release.” If I ask in a SciFi Romance writer-only group, I will likely receive more detailed answers. “My sales are between X and Y.” If I ask one specific writer in a private message, I will likely receive an even more detailed answer. “On release B, I earned Z sales.”

Note: If a writer tells me something in private, I do NOT share it with anyone unless I have her permission. That writer WILL find out I shared the information and that will be the end of that relationship. I try to be a writer other writers can trust.

Receiving Advice

I always thank the writer for taking the time to respond to my question, even if that response was “I’d rather not say.” If I ask in a group, I individually thank every writer who responds. Picking and choosing whom to reply to sends a message that the other writers’ feedback isn’t valued. I do NOT want to do that.

If the answer to my question is “I’d rather not say”, I try to think of a different way to approach the problem I have. Or I simply share the key problem. Maybe I don’t truly need to know how many sales the writer has. Maybe what I truly need to know is if my release will cover the XX costs of producing that release.

This Doesn’t Apply To Me

Sometimes my first reaction is ‘This advice doesn’t apply to me. I’m different.’ Sometimes (rarely) this is true. Often it isn’t.

When I first started writing, I was advised by a gazillion writers to stick to one niche, to become known for a certain type of story. I dismissed that advice because my muse had to be free. It couldn’t be locked down to one niche.

I was a dumb ass. (laughs) Every writer who gave me that advice had struggled with that same issue. They had merely figured out ways to work with their flighty muses. (I don’t publish every story I write, for example.) If I had followed up on their responses with “How do you handle the urge to write in other niches?”, I would have saved myself years of struggle.

Should I Apply This Advice?

Every writer is different and what works for one writer might not work for another (this applies to ALL of my advice in this and other posts).

If the advice isn’t something I feel comfortable doing, I don’t act on it. If I like the advice but I’m worried it might not work (because this business changes so quickly), I might test it. If the advice feels right to me, is logical, is applicable to today’s publishing world, I might act on it with everything I have.

I don’t argue with the writer about her advice. That doesn’t accomplish anything. I simply thank her and move on. I don’t broadcast that I’m asking others the same question (unless I mentioned that when I asked her the question). That can be interpreted as saying her advice wasn’t good enough.

Any writer who takes the time to respond to a question cares about the person asking the question. She is spending precious writing time trying to help me out. She still might give bad-for-me advice. That’s entirely possible. But her heart is in the right place.


This is how I tackle asking for advice. How do you tackle it?

***

Subscribe To My Monthly Newsletter: http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Dark Flight

His mission. His challenge. His forever.

Orol, the Refuge’s second-in-command, has been given what he believes is a simple mission—escort two human females to the settlement. The winged warrior arrives at the meeting site to find one of the females missing and the other aiming a gun at his head. To rescue the first, he must capture the second. Once he has Rhea in his talons, however, he realizes he never wants to let her go.

Her enemy. Her captor. Her everything.

Rhea doesn’t trust anyone. She certainly doesn’t follow commands issued by a gorgeous flying male with glittering eyes, a beautiful face, and a seductive touch. Orol is dominant, edged with darkness, and determined to find her sister. Rhea will do anything to prevent that, even if it means playing sensual games of submission with her powerful enemy, seducing him into forgetting everything except her.

Dark Flight is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance set in a gritty, dark world.

Buy Now:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flight-Refuge-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07124941B/

Apple/iBooks/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dark-flight/id1242494643

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-flight-cynthia-sax/1126484675

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-flight-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727350

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

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