Read-a-Romance Month…and Some Errant Ramblings, by Rose Lange

I don’t have my own blog (just yet), but I’m happy to be writing for the Soulmate Author Blog. I was fortunate enough to join the Soulmate family October 2013, when I signed a contract for my debut novel, “Gracie’s Plan,” set to be released August 27. Since then, I’ve been surrounded by the most wonderful, and supportive folks you could ever meet.

As I quickly approach my release date, I’m a jumble of emotions…the excited- always-wanted-this part of me is jumping up and down saying, “Look at me! Look at me!” While the introvert is cowering in the corner saying, “Don’t look at me, please.” It’s a whole mixed bag of emotions I can’t get away from, no matter how hard I try. So I guess all I can do at this point, is take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride of this incredible journey.

Thank you for listening to my rambling, now it’s on to the next part of my post. This month I’m taking part in Read Romance Month, which is being celebrated through the month of August. Below are some questions I’ve answered about my journey to becoming a romance writer. Thank you for stopping by, and enjoy!

  1. Describe the most daring, adventurous, or inspiring thing you ever did.

This was a tough question, and I had to really think about before I answered. I would say writing encompasses all of these things so I’ve done all of them. And I think anyone that writes has as well. Writing is daring, because you’re exposed, having others read your work makes you feel vulnerable. Sending a manuscript out into the world is a scary prospect, whether to an agent, editor, for impending publication. Even for a friend or family to critique.

Writing is adventurous, because you never know where you’re going to end up. You create this world, these characters that are in your mind, and whether you plot or work your way in blindfolded, it’s an exciting adventure! And you just never know where it will take you.

Writing is inspiring, because to put stories on paper that will have an emotional impact on others is a very powerful thing. Whether you elicit a positive or negative reaction in your reader, you’ve got a reaction. Of course we want the reader’s experience to be positive, but there’s always one little pesky fly in the ointment, and we can’t please everybody.

Despite the scary “unknowns” of writing, for me, it has been soothing, healing, therapeutic, and always a happy place that I look forward to visiting every time. Even during the roughest case of writer’s block, or the dreaded “middle,” where you think what you’re writing is crap, and you’ll never finish the darned thing. Then you get through it all, and you’re left with this beautiful story in the end.

  1. Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I was fourteen when I read my first romance, and I was hooked. I decided right then and there I wanted to do that! I guess I never imagined how far I would go, probably until some great encouragement from my high school English teacher. She gave my first manuscript, an adult contemporary to her published sister. I got some very positive feedback, and from that moment on I hung on to my dreams. I always knew I would someday be published. In my mind, it wasn’t ever a matter of it, but when. Now, seventeen years after I started, I’m reaping the hard earned fruits of my labor.

  1. Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

The book that changed my life was Julia Quinn’s “Everything and the Moon,” I read it and fell in love with romance. I thought it might be fun to write, so I tried, and after that I was addicted and couldn’t stop. It got into my blood so to speak, or maybe it was always there, lurking at the surface, and ready to come out and play.

Bio:

Rose LangeRose Lange has been a reader since she was little. Her joy for reading eventually turned into a passion for writing, which she started pursuing in high school. Her English teacher read her first manuscript, a contemporary romance, and encouraged her to keep writing.

She is a member of Romance Writer’s of America, as well as the Wisconsin Chapter, where she has formed wonderful friendships.

Rose lives in Southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, son, and a mischievous poodle, Gizmo. She loves spending time in her “mommy” cave creating stories, and getting to know her characters.

When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching old movies, reading, and shopping.

“Gracie’s Plan,” a contemporary romance, is her debut novel.

www.roselange.com

Facebook: Rose Lange, Author

 

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Blue Ribbons

Tea CUP

Catherine’s Cup of Tea . . .

For me August is all about competing with my sewing and crafts at two local fairs. The first one was the Cochranton Community Fair. The second one is the Crawford County Fair (which is the largest agricultural fair in the state).

Sewing is my hobby and greatest crafting joy. I make clothes that I like to wear (and which fit me!).  However, I didn’t sew all the projects, only eight. Blue ribbons went to my apron, culottes, blouse, and skirt.

Fair-Culouttes2014I’m especially happy about the culottes— an orange-turquoise plaid— and yes, I matched the plaids. The culottes took first place (blue ribbons) at both fairs.

Speaking of matching, I made a red-and-white striped blouse and matched the side-seam horizontal stripes. This blouse also took blue ribbons at both fairs.Fair-Red-White Blouse

But the treasured blue ribbons from both fairs were for the black and white, two-piece, Erte-inspired outfit for my eighteen-inch fashion doll. I had no pattern to go by, only an Erte illustration. And illustrators don’t put in seam-lines! FYI: Erte is the father of Art Deco, having created fabulous garments for stage, screen, and fashion runways.
Fair-Erte
At Cochranton, I also exhibited flower arrangement (all took ribbons), and one flower. This year’s weather was not kind to flowers, and with the fair coming early this year (the 4th of August), I thought there would be no flowers for me to enter. However, on the last morning that entries were due, I spotted one blooming, pink-edged, creamy-white gladiola spike— and to my amazement, it took first place.

Fair-GladiolaI also won with my miniature arrangement, which was the bowl to a miniature pitcher-bowl set. How small was it? One and a half inches in diameter and half and inch deep. I was working with the tiniest of white flowers (real ones) with the centerpiece of the arrangement being two budding azaleas. That’s right, azaleas. The bush bloomed in the spring, but for some reason, there were these two little buds on a bottom branch. And since the buds were slow to open, and tiny, they were a perfect addition to the bowl.

So, you might wonder why I would put in all this sewing and crafting effort for $3 for a blue ribbon? That doesn’t sound like a good return on time, materials, and effort, right? Well, of course it’s not about money. It’s about validation— The ribbons say I’m good enough to stand out in competition.  It’s creativity with tangible perks and keepsakes. Over the years my “tail of ribbons” has grown and hangs on my sewing room wall.

Besides, aren’t most writers creative folks? That creativity overflowing into hobbies, arts and crafts?

So, other than writing, what’s your craft or hobby specialty? Do you ever compete for ribbons or at fairs?

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Creating the Universe, One Word at a Time

elovah currency

 

Big Brother. Dweomer. Mockingjay. The Golden Snitch. Ringwraiths. Great A’Tuin. The shining. You know all, or at least some of these made-up words and phrases. Heck, if you’re anything like me, you’ve extensively pondered the joys of taking second breakfast with a hobbit, maybe after imbibing some butterbeer with Harry and Hermione.

I read fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. There’s just something so intriguing about consuming a story that not only includes the usual drama of everyday living but words and ideas that exist uniquely in the universe the author has created. These fictitious concepts and words fascinate me. Why did the author construct this style of government? What magic system did she or he dismiss before deciding on that one? What do the syllables of these words represent? How much symbolism and ideology can be packed into a single word or phrase?

I write romantic fantasy and sci-fi. At least part of the great joy of penning my stories comes from stretching the known. As a writer of the paranormal, I create new, maybe extranatural (who says they’re “super”?) situations and vernacular. I love the challenge of coming up with new ways of organizing the words and the world.

I set my latest novel, The Tithe, which is due to be released on August 20 (hooray!), a century or more into the future. Humanity has been reduced to a devout, few hundred thousand souls, all of whom live in the desert towns of what we now know as San Bernardino County in Southern California. As such, I tried to balance two conflicting goals: spicing my characters’ lives with words, phrases, and concepts specific to their small, highly regimented, and deeply religious desert lives while also making their values and speech intelligible to my readers.

My main character, Joshua (named after the trees that dot the Mojave’s landscape), is an orphan whom the imrabi raised in one of Barstow’s rab’ris. She attends services, reads the Bitoran, and prays daily to Elovah. To translate, Josh lives among the town’s holy women and reads devotedly their town’s holy book. In creating this new religion, along with its verbiage, ideologies, and rituals, I chose to model it on our modern incarnations of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For example, The Tithe’s god’s name is Elovah, which I devised by combining the various names of the Abrahamic gods: Yahweh, Adonai, Elohim, Jehovah, Allah. Well, and I made Her a woman.

About halfway through The Tithe, Josh officiates two weddings. I researched Jewish, Christian, and Muslim weddings, snagged traditions from each, rendered them a bit more gender egalitarian, and created an interesting and odd amalgamation that includes rings, chalices, and veils for both would-be spouses.

Do I expect “imrabi” and “Bitoran” to become pop cultural buzzwords? Well, maybe not. But that doesn’t stop me from delighting in this new world, with its unique curse words (“Jimson!”), religious dogma (remaining illiterate and attending twice daily services), and arid analogies (“his voice as dry and impersonal as the desert wind”). All this, in its alienness and its familiarity, its highlighting of some modern conventions and dismissal of others, reflects not only my creative processes but also a deeply personal commentary on the political and cultural state of the world.

It’s no wonder I’m so in love with fantasy and sci-fi. In combining the familiar with the fantastic, we paranormal authors create worlds that reflect, explore, and defy the foibles and possibilities of modern life.

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Small Doses of Inspiration

While I enjoy attending motivational workshops and lectures, sometimes I need inspiration in smaller doses.

During my teaching years, I would pop my head in a neighboring classroom and chat briefly between periods. Those three to five minutes of conversation would be all that I needed to receive (give) encouragement and support.

As a writer, I have to think outside the box if I want that small dose of inspiration. I could call a friend or family member, but the conversation could easily extend beyond five minutes and derail my daily writing practice.

I found the solution in the most unlikely of places—YouTube. The following short clips keep me on track whenever…

I face a daunting task.

Receive one-too-many rejection letters.

Or simply need the kind of inspiration that only David Bowie can provide.

Any other small doses of inspiration out there?

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Where’s A Critic When You Need One?

Heckle and Jeckle (Paul Terry, 1946)

Heckle and Jeckle, 1946

Okay, I have to confess here to something I’ve done in the past that not everyone understands or appreciates. At one point in my career, I was the person who sent you 7 renewal notices for your magazine subscription. I know what you’re thinking – “Those are so annoying. Why didn’t you just remind me once when the subscription was up?”

Because that doesn’t work! Magazine publishers would love to save on mailing costs, but actually we mailed up to 9 reminders before they stop generating enough response to pay for the mailing. People need multiple reminders. Even necessary bills get mailed in multiples as you’ll find if you’re ever late on one.

Direct mail is based on years of practice and testing, so I thought it might be interesting to compare those proven tactics to what I found based on one year of review requests:

Waldorf and Statler (Bonnie Erickson, 1975)

Statler and Waldorf, 1975

  1. Of the 166 bloggers I emailed about Feeling Lucky, 119 or 72% were still in business when I emailed about Restless Spirits. The rule of thumb in direct mail is 1/3 of addresses in a list go bad in a year, so that’s consistent.
  2. The response to my initial requests was 15 reviews or 9%. In direct mail, anything up to 10% is considered really good; over is very rare. By comparison, if you assume that reach on Facebook is the number of followers who see a post, my current rate of return there is 4%.
  3. I’ve noticed a few reviewers have shifted from blog pages to Facebook and Goodreads pages. As much as possible, you still need to check for review policies – if and how they accept your style of book.
  4. Reviews are good any time. Last year, I found a direct correlation with any activity spike on Amazon, so I keep building my list as I come across new reviewers. Twitter has been my best source, but Google+ is getting more active.
  5. It is essential to keep good records of name, URLs, date contacted, date responded, and what was the response. Everyone who responds goes to the top of next year’s list!
Siskel and Ebert, 1986

Siskel and Ebert, 1986

Review requests are just that – simple requests. You include the 2 brilliant paragraphs you agonized over for your back cover and any links to your book trailer, social media pages, Amazon page, Goodreads page, and website or blog. Mention any contest wins or nominations. This is not the place to be shy!

Everyone I’ve contacted has been just lovely. I’ve never had a bad experience, though yeah, once I got a 2 star review. Legitimacy, baby! I am running into more reviewers who say they’re too busy to review, but would I like to guest blog? That’s fun! What are you finding that’s new?

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A Fairy Tale Life

IMG_20140724_214132_525That used to be the name of my blog. When I believed I needed a cute tag line that incorporated all my writing and genres.  The only problem was, it didn’t and my life definitely hasn’t been a fairy tale.

But I do believe in gratitude and the power of the positive. If you believe it, it will come. (Cue the Field of Dreams music.) I’ve been long enough in this world to know there are two kinds of people. The ones who are complaining about the travel accommodations and those who are grinning, enjoying the ride. I like hanging out with the second group better. And, I’ve found, I like myself better when I am relaxed and ready for anything.

When I booked my hotel for the San Antonio trip last month, I didn’t know where the hotel was in comparison with the conference center.  I hoped I’d be able to walk the short distance safely. When the taxi took me to the hotel, I started to have concerns. The sidewalks were torn up as they were renovating a building next door. The hotel’s valet entrance was relocated as they were adding a revolving door. And my room wasn’t ready.IMG_20140723_132831_216

In the past, these minor inconveniences would have had me in tears. Instead, I checked my luggage with the valet and walked across the street to tour the Alamo and buy my required (as a Texas virgin) souvenirs.IMG_20140723_135301_352

The Menger is a lovely historic hotel right next to the Alamo. I got a lot more than I bargained for with my stay. (I also paid $8 for a bottle of water because I couldn’t read the sign and the soda machine in the ice machine room stole my money.)  Okay, so the grump can still slip out. :)

An elderly man greeted me each time I walked the hall of the lobby toward the street and off to the conference. It didn’t matter how many times I passed by, he would nod and give me a cheery, “Have a nice day.” IMG_20140724_082159_743

I’m sure he didn’t work there. Probably a relative of a manager or the owner, but the guy knew customer service. And how to be friendly to a stranger in a strange land.  I’m also pretty sure he was real. The Menger is famous for the ghosts that call the hotel home.

Are you an optimist? Or a glass half empty kind of person? Or are you like me, and bounce? IMG_20140725_191431_736

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Catching a New Cover!

I’m really excited today to show you the cover for my new novel, Catching the Baron. It will be released this fall! Isn’t it lovely? Since this is the first of three companion novels to the Perfect Series, I just love how the cover is similar to the other books.

CatchingtheBaron850HIGHThe idea for Catching the Baron came about when I was writing His Perfect Lady. Sometimes those secondary characters really grip me and demand their story be told as well. So, I’m happy Kenneth and Samantha’s story will soon be available.

For the release date or an excerpt, you can check out my website at http://www.jennlangston.com. At this time, I don’t have an exact date, but I intend to update my website as soon as I know. Below is the blurb.

Happy Reading!

Jenn

Catching the Baron, to be released fall 2014

Kenneth Rawson, Baron Berwick, needs to marry an heiress, but when he discovers his new stable boy, Sam, is actually a woman, he finds himself intrigued. Knowing his choice of a bride must be based on more than blinding passion, he makes his stance on not marrying her very clear.
Samantha Jenkins disguised herself as a boy after the tragic loss of her parents in order to escape a landlord who claimed she owed a debt. After spending time with Baron Berwick, she finds herself falling in love. However, a telling conversation with him makes her realize he only meant to use her until he weds. When fate steps in and Samantha’s grandmother comes to collect her, she finds out her mother was the daughter of an earl. With that knowledge comes a substantial dowry. Can she set aside her pain to give Kenneth another chance?
Will Kenneth realize he is lost without her and set aside his pride to beg for forgiveness?

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