Monday, February 28, 2005


I have two new books due out this month - both are romantic comedies. One is a time travel and the other is a vampire parody.

Battle's Bride (couldn't ditch the title, lol) will be out at Loose Id, and is a time travel.

My Fair Pixie is a spoof on both the vampire genre and My Fair Lady. It will be coming soon from Ellora's Cave.

More when I have news!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Cold Snap!

Woke up today and everything is white. Five inches of snow, frost and ice everywhere, and our village is like a skating rink. I'll have to wait until it thaws a bit before leaving the house with the car (our village is perched on a big hill!)

My husband left this morning to go to Moscow - called me and said, "Don't take the big hill leading to the chicken farm...I almost skidded right into the chicken coops!" The farmer would have loved that. He's heading to Moscow for a polo tournament - he's the referee- and it's on ice! An outdoor match on ice and snow - Brrr!!! Sebi has asked him to bring him back an army jacket. Alex wants a funny Russian hat. Julia wants a set of stacking dolls. (Angel ate her last set of Russian dolls...) And I would love some caviar... It's so good with boiled potatoes and cream. Yum.

Finished my project for Bercy Jumping, and sent it to the printers yesterday. (500 copies!) So that's finished. Now I'm waiting for France Gallop to call me back about their project - and I hope they contact me soon. I told them I could do 12 drawings in 2 weeks, plus an animated drawing for the bottom of their leaflet. (you flip the pages and it moves - very cute idea!) So, depending on whether they call or not, I will be either very busy the first two weeks of March - or looking for another job. (I just got word they want me for the job - yay! This will be a busy month now!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Best writing advice I ever got

You want to write a novel. That’s not unusual. A lot of people love to write and many excel at it. I’d like to give you the best advice possible though before you begin, and this is it: finish what you start.
Yes, that’s it. Finish what you start. Carve it in stone or write it in indelible ink and paste it over your keyboard, but don’t forget it. It sounds so anodyne, so uncomplicated, and so easy. But it’s going to be the hardest part of writing a novel.

Starting a book is easy. Inspiration comes as quickly and easily as a breeze through an open window or a dream. Even characters are simple to create; after all, they are living in your head and you know them better than anyone. A plot is important and it’s as easy as a beginning, a middle and an end.
So, you ask, what is so hard about writing a novel?

I’ll tell you. Writing a novel is sitting down every single day and writing. It’s writing when you are not inspired. It’s writing when you have something else to do. It’s writing when there is a movie you want to see, a dog barking, the telephone ringing, and your kids clamouring for their dinner. It’s writing until you’ve attained your word count, and then wrote the last two words…‘The End’.
It still sounds deceptively easy. But how many would-be authors write twenty, thirty, even a hundred pages and then get stuck. “No, this isn’t going right.” They say. Or, “I can’t seem to get into the story anymore.” They decide to put it in a drawer and finish it later.

More likely they will have another inspiration and start writing a totally different book. They will invent newer, more interesting characters and start again. And then, after a few chapters, the same ennui will set in. The same doubts. The same urge to just stick the manuscript in a drawer and start anew.

Finish what you have started.
The best advice you can get is this: No matter what happens to the characters, plot, and conflict—keep writing. Finish that book! The first book a novelist pens is rarely a gem. It’s often a barely concealed autobiographical book about themselves. The very best thing an aspiring author can do is to finish that first book…and put it in a drawer. Then, start another one. But never, ever, start a new one until you’ve finished writing your first book.

Finish that first book for several reasons.
One, it means you are an author. You have written a novel. No matter what kind of book, be it a masterpiece or a disaster, it is a novel and it is finished. You have done something many people set out to do and few accomplish, so give yourself a pat on the back. Two, it will give you the confidence you need to start another book and to finish that one too. Book two will be better, I promise. It will be easier to write. The words will flow effortlessly. The characters will stay in character. And you will have vanquished the urge to add autobiographical details. You will have freed yourself to write. So you want to write a novel? Go ahead, start one…but whatever you do, finish what you’ve started.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Titles are not my strong point

I am not a great title namer...So every day when I have to think of a new title for my blog post I sort of freeze up. Ack. What shall I call this post? Usually I just use the day of the week and get it over with. Monday. Voila.
Got the edits back from Battle's Bride (I told you titles were not my strong point!) This is a Working Title, which means I needed to name my Doc. something in order to find it again and this was the best I could come up with. Ack. I know. Ugh.
My editor had only a few tiny nits to clean up. She said (and I quote,) "This was a very clean copy, I only have two or three things for you to fix."
Well, that, for an author, is like getting a birthday present when it's not even your birthday. I was expecting to spend the whole day (and maybe a few others) on edits, and I ran through this in a half an hour. Oh Joy, Oh Bliss...Does this mean I'm making progress?
I will have to write another book and find out.

Off I go.
By the way - I have discovered a new blog with wonderful recipes. Feel free to visit my links over there on the right. I will use the extra time I won by making soup!

Sunday, February 20, 2005


I woke up today to a winter wonderland - Everything was covered in a lovely blanket of pristine snow. The trees were laced with white, snow covered the rooftops and garden. Little flakes of snow drifted through the morning sky.
By noon it was nearly all gone!
Now there is nothing left of our snow day. All that remains is Slush....

Which brings me to writing. The slush pile, as you all know, is the towering stack of unrequested manuscripts that arrive daily to publishers and agents. To get out of the slush pile, a manuscript has to grab the attention of the person reading it. And often that person has already skimmed over thirty manuscripts and has already got a headache. The APE (agent/publisher/editor) picks up your manuscript. The APE (that looks strange, for some reason. Maybe I better make it a PEA?) Ahem. The PEA picks up your manuscript and reads the cover letter and synopsis. Hopefully you have made both short and to the point, as well as witty, interesting, professional, and intriguing. The PEA then picks up your manuscript and begins to read. If you are lucky, your first sentence is a hook that grabs the PEA. The PEA, now hooked, reads the first page. If your story is well written and flows smoothly, the PEA may find he's already on Chapter Two. (usually you have sent the first three chapters in a blind query. It's not usual to send an entire novel without a request) And the PEA, now interested, reads chapters two and three...and puts your (incredibly witty and intriguing) query and your (enthralling and well-written) manuscript on the 'maybe' desk.

Well, it's a start. The PEA is most likely a HUR, that is, a helpful underpaid reader. Hur will give the query and first three chapters to the real PEA, who, with the HUR's positive remarks, will read them at leisure. Have pity on the HUR; format your manuscript correctly, use spell check, and use a good printer using black ink on white paper.

If all goes well for your book, you will receive a letter on your SASE a few weeks (or months) later from the PEA asking for a Partial or a Full. That means you have passed the first test. You will now send off a Partial manuscript (the number of chapter/pages requested) or the whole thing. You will now wait. Use the time wisely. Write another book.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Weekend, Busy Weekend

It's the start of school vacation and the kids are home. I still have edits to finish by Monday and I'm waiting for word on the illustrating job with France Gallop for the racing booklet. I'm looking forward to doing that!
I've been blog hopping this morning, and read Max Perkin's post on the infantizing of authors. (And all about how he hates Valentine's Day - but honestly, any holiday that gets taken over by commercialization is horrid. I can't bear Christmas, Halloween, and Easter for that reason. I'd much rather celebrate something like Summer Solstice, Ash Wednesday or Candlemass - at least they don't have sickening decorations, cards, commercials, or songs to make you forget what the day was really all about.)
Back to authors and how they are being kept in the dark by their agents and publishers...
Yes Max - it's true. I said it ages ago on your blog that we authors have little or no control over our careers. We can give all - or nothing - it really hardly matters. Going to conventions, having a website, blogging, booksignings...all those are drops in the bucket.
Good books will be overlooked. Bad books will become best sellers. Your book has been thrown to the public lions and they will either devour it and love it, or ignore it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Got my last batch of edits back for Tiger Gold, so I've been busy. I somehow have to cram 3,000 more words into the story. (looking at it from all angles) But I'm not sure where.
It's hard on a finished story to add. On first edits, it's easy. There is a lot of room for improvement, and my editors are terrific. But once the story has been polished up, it's hard to find a nook or cranny to stick an extra scene.
I'm sure I'll find one.
I don't think it needs more sex. Maybe some description? More character development? Hmmm. We shall see. Best thing sometimes is to let it sit a couple days and look at it with fresh eyes.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Stormy Sunday

Rain is slashing across the windowpane, and in the valley sheets of water move sideways like veils of gray silk. Our neighbor's pine trees lean precariously, while in our linden trees, turtle doves huddle to keep dry. Hail sprinkles down, adding a dry, sandy sound to the rain, but it's soon over. The wind wails, sweeps the clouds away, and ruffles the overflowing puddles in the town square. Roof-tiles gleam wetly, the grass is bright, emerald green, and Rusty looks at me as if to say, 'Do I really have to go outside now?'

Yes, Rusty, it's time for your walk. If we hurry, we might beat that big, black cloud heading this way from the West!

(a little while later)
I didn't beat the storm cloud, and my hair is wet! Rusty is curled up on her bed. Yesterday I got quite a lot done on my WIP, so this morning I'm dawdling. Plus it's Sunday, and everything is quiet. The blustery weather is actually lovely - there are long moments of calm and then the wind starts to howl again and the sky darkens.
Time for another cup of tea!

Saturday, February 12, 2005


I always hear Elton John's song when I see the word Saturday...

I have a thousand words to do today for my WIP. As usual, having an outline has helped a lot. I read on another blog where an author's muse deserted...I thought, 'maybe he doesn't have an outline?'
You see, when you have an outline, you don't need inspiration, you need to buckle down and get to work. Sit at the keyboard - type. Type until you have met your quota, even if you are only typing "This sucks, This sucks, This sucks..."
The words will start to flow. The story will appear and the characters will come to life and draw you further into your tale...and if that doesn't happen, keep writing. You can always delete what doesn't please you at a later time. The important thing when wrting a novel is to Keep Writing. (and having an outline will make that less of a feat.)

With that writer's hint for the day, I bid you farewell!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Primroses in the Rain

I took a long walk this morning. My friend Sophie dropped by with her friend Claire and her dog Bouillotte (hot water bottle, lol) So I took my dog Rusty and off we went for a ten mile hike through the woods. It was misty and a light rain fell, but we had on wellies, coats, and broad-brimmed hats. The dogs snuffed and snorted through the underbrush while we slipped and sloshed through the mud on the path. We came out in a tiny village in the depths of a valley. The way in and out is steep, and at the bottom is a tiny church, a stream, and a bridge flanked by two, centuries old willow trees. It's a lovely place.Afterwards, we went home along the road. Not too much traffic this morning, thank goodness. I don't know about you, but when I go off on a hike, I like to make a circle. I don't like backtracking, or going back the exact same way I set out.Once back in my village, we left the road and followed a footpath up a hill. All along the way were pink and yellow primroses, dotted with sparkliing drops of rain.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Mostly I feel like I'm doing a juggling act. I try to balance the housework against the writing all the while giving priority to kids and husband! Home alone all day means not letting myself just sit down and stare at the TV (I don't turn it on at all) Or read (although I'd really love to sit and read, lol!) or let myself get too caught up in the internet. (Surf for one hour then shut the darn thing off!)
But it's hard to lose myself in writing a book when I have things on the back of my mind.
"Don't forget to pick up Julia."
"Don't forget the shopping list."
"Don't forget to go get Sebi at 1:30"
"Don't forget to buy a present for the family in Finland who are taking care of Julia"
"The dishes, the laundry, and the vacuuming have to be done today!(we'll dust and do the bathroom tomorrow, lol)"
So I sit and try to write, and all those things trot in my head, so I'm constantly glancing at the clock, or getting up to do one of my chores.
However, since I'm an organized writer, I have my outlines ready, my books in order, and the work I need to do is also trotting in my head.
"1,000 words for Bride's Battle"
"Finish plotting A Charm for a Unicorn"
"Send off query for agent"
"Try to get rights back for Angels"
"Reformat 'The Promise'"
"500 words for Paradise Earth 2"

I also wanted to explain a little how I worked.
Here is a brief excerpt of Paradise Earth 2 - Revelation that I'm finishing up for Changeling Press. It's a WIP, unedited, and won't make much sense since it's plucked from the middle of a sci-fi sequel, lol. In writing terms, it's a m/m erotic romance, meaning male / male. (homoerotic) I will also include some m/f (you can guess what that is) in it, which will make it more popular with woman readers (many of whom search for f/f or m/m books). Most publishers have a list of genres on their site.
It illustrates the way I often work - I tend to downplay the sensual side of my books and concentrate on character and plot. The love scenes are in there, but they are not very long. When the book is finished, I will go back and make the love scenes more in keeping with an erotica book. This love scene will probably get another half a page or even a full page more added.I try to use all the senses - smell, touch, taste, sound, and feel. A good way to round out a sex scene is to check to see if all those elements are included.

“I’m going to the mainland.” Evan switched off the localizer and ran his hand over his bald head.
“I’ve given up on the Federation, so if you want to use that as an excuse…”
Evan shook his head. “No. I’ve given up on the Federation too.” He grinned wryly. “They should have arrived already. Seven years they said, and that was nearly eight years ago.”
“I don’t want you to go. No one has ever returned.”
“I will,” Evan said gently. He drew Adam to him, pressing him against his chest. His hands smoothed familiar planes, muscles, and he closed his eyes. He felt so close to Adam that sometimes he thought they shared the same skin. Adam always smelled and tasted of oranges. Salt and oranges, with a tang of bitter honey. His mouth trailed kisses over Adam’s cheek and down his neck.
Adam responded, his skin flushing in a way that Evan found arousing. Their differences still titillated them. Evan’s smooth, hairless skin was sensitive to Adam’s furry chest, legs and arms. And Evan knew that Adam could practically come just by looking at his appendage, a flexible, tail-like antenna that extended from a slit on his lower back.
As he heard Adam’s breathing getting faster, Evan’s cock grew hard. The two men were naked. No one wore clothes on Paradise Island. It was hot, and no one else but their ‘children’ were there, and none of the tribes had invented clothes yet.
In his aroused state, Evan caught fragments of Adam’s emotions. Not his thoughts, but he could feel the same things Adam felt. It amplified his excitement. Adam was so sensual, so sexual. Their mouths came together. Their kiss deepened...
copyright Samantha Winston - all rights reserved.

Well, if I want to get anything done, I better stop writing in this blog!

Monday, February 07, 2005


It's Monday - and so far it's been hectic. I forgot my son had his sport's exam. I forgot my husband needed his car today. I had to rush to the highschool to drop off my son, then back to the village to take my daughter to her school. This afternoon I have to do everything backwards - and I now have an official deadline to meet. I can already hear it whooshing by.
Luckily I am a fast writer. I'm an outliner and a plotter, so I don't usually get caught in too tight a bind. My characters tend to take over, but I try to stay within the framework of the plot. It's easy. I used to be a 'pantser', and I wrote two books like that. They took me forever to write, and I swore I'd never do it again. Every book since has been written After I plot it out and do the dreaded outline. The dreaded outline is a chapter by chapter synopsis of the book. It is usually bare bones for me - a skimpy framework I can bend, twist, and change as I flesh it out. But just having the book as an outline is an immense help for an author. I know everyone says 'Everyone writes differently'. But there are easier ways to do things...and an outline is one of them.
For example - here is the outline of a book I sent to a publisher not long ago.

Sadie’s Island
By Jennifer Macaire

Chapter One: Introduction to the narrator’s family and St. Thomas. The narrator tells about her family, then explains about the horrendous scar that divides her face in two and keeps her from being beautiful. She explains how she’s in love with Brett, and tells a little about her best friend, Andrea. The chapter ends when the narrator tells of rescuing two children from the strong undertow at the beach, her trip to the hospital, and how glad she is to be home afterwards.

Chapter Two: The school year starts, and our narrator tells about her sister, Sadie, and more about Brett and her friend, Andrea. Our narrator’s first period arrives, and disaster strikes with the cheerleader try-outs. There is the story about the tarantulas, the drive-in movie at the cow pasture, and the new next-door neighbors, who turn out to be Brett and his family. Brett breaks his arm and finds out his has leukaemia. Our narrator loses her virginity with him, and they make a pact to write each other when he goes to the states to the hospital. The narrator goes to the plastic surgeon and gets her face repaired. She hears Brett is not doing well in the hospital.

Chapter Three: The story of the Carnival Queen. Sadie’s letter to Brett.

Chapter Four: Carnival time in St. Thomas. The witch of the mangroves visits the village, and our narrator meets her. She learns that Brett is dead after seeing a vision of him. Sadie is accepted to Harvard, and the family’s focus shifts away from the narrator and her terrible grief. But Sadie guesses what happens, and goes to comfort her sister.

This outline is pretty detailed - I wrote it after I wrote a quick synopsis - idea of the plot. It was taken from a short story I wrote, so the characters had already been somewhat developed. When I sent the outline to the publisher, it was even more complete, with excerpts from each chapter and a complete synopsis of the story. (Including the ending - always include the ending with your synopsis and outline when you send it to the publisher or an agent!)

Well, back to work!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Novels VS novellas

Sometimes I like to read shorter fiction. Time is a deciding factor. Novellas tend to be tightly written and its sometimes easier to get caught up in a good story when it's shorter. I like to finish a book in one or two sittings, and it's easier to do with a novella. They are also easier on my budget, and lots can fit in my bookcase.
Of course, a huge tome is wonderful too, it's like setting out on a long journey though, and one has to get prepared. (hot tea, biscuits, an orange, good light...) A novella can be picked up one afternoon and devoured. A long novel is savored.
Right now I'm reading a Russian novel. (The Devil and Margharita) The writing is amazing, and the characters fascinating. But the theme is complex and the writing is so rich I have to read it a nibble at a time. I'm more than halfway through, and I'm dying to find out what happens to Ivan, the poet, and I want to read more about Ponce Pilate, and see if his headache has gone away yet...
But I have to meet my self-imposed quota of three chapters today on my WIP - a novella- and the writing has to be tight and crisp.
I think I'll go make myself some tea.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Work, work, Work!

I've been busy writing. Not that I don't like that - I love it! So far I've finished two chapters in a WIP (work in progress) and finished the outline for another novel. I have three WIP's going at once - it's not unusual for an author to have a couple books going at the same time. One is almost finished, and I have a sort of superstition about finishing a book - I can only do it when I'm all alone and the atmosphere is just right. The same goes for starting a book. But I can work away at the middle of the book in the middle of a riot - that is no problem!
The book I'm working on today is the sequel to Paradise Earth. I have been trying to finish this book for ages, and I haven't been able to because of edits, other deadlines, and life in general. Now that everything has somewhat calmed down, I'm starting on it again.
It's a very cool sci-fi novella about earth after it's been destroyed and replopulated by alien life-forms. Very cool aliens, I might add!
Well, back to work!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Day 2 of Blog

Woke up late this morning, and have to get cranking at edits. My schedule is built around my family life - when the kids are home, I don't work. Today is Wednesday, so my daughter has no school and my twin sons will be home at noon. However, I want to finish the book I'm editing so I can start another. That means I have to organize the kids activities before I sit down to work. (this will be a short post - I am not very organized!)
I'll write more tomorrow about editing and editors!
Right now, I have to go get Organized!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

How I became Sam

One day I was moaning on the phone to my mother about my writing. I felt as if I was the biggest idiot in the entire world - who else would work for three years and earn 75 dollars? I was about to forget about publishing and go back to writing for pleasure (and look for a 'real job'). But Sam was listening on the line, and he said, half laughing, "Why don't you write erotica? That's where the money is, darling."
His friend Winston, also listening in, agreed.
I told them, "If I ever do, I'll use your names for my pen name."
The next month I stumbled across Ellora's Cave, and I thought it looked Very interesting. I read a few of their books, then I wrote something for them, half thinking I was off chasing wild geese again. But imagine my surprise when they accepted my book a mere three hours after I'd sent it off! Stunned, I looked at the contract and remembered what I'd said to Sam and Winston. I signed Samantha Winston in the blank they left for pen names.
So far, I've written thirteen erotic romances. It's fun being Samantha.