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  • Spar
    Spar
    by Nikko Lee

    A closeted black belt comes to terms with his bisexuality when he takes an openly gay student as his new sparring partner.

  • Wolf Creek
    Wolf Creek
    by Nikko Lee

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

  • NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    by Gary Budgen, Julian Darius, Richard Greico Jr, Nikko Lee, K. A. Opperman, Alice Renard, Rose Banks, Paul St. John Mackintosh, Michael Seese

    Contains Instabiable by Nikko Lee

  • Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    by Carol Hightshoe, Cynthia Ward, Terry M. West, Christie Meierz, Dana Bell, Mary E. Lowd, Patrick J. Hurley, Francis W. Alexander, Liam Hogan

    Brainatarian by Nikko Lee

  • Coming Back
    Coming Back
    by James Arthur Anderson, Brian Barnett, Dave Fragments, Shawna Galvin, Vince Darcangelo, Ken Goldman, Michael Lindquist

    Contains A Mother Knows by Nikko Lee (paperback available at Lulu.com)

  • Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    by Jonathan W. Thurston

    Contains Great Mother Wolf by Michelle Knowlton

  • People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    by Frank Larnerd, Tony Peak, Geoff Gander, Shenoa Caroll-Bradd, Robert Hart, Nikko Lee, Kyle Yadlosky, Edward Martin III

    Contains Bouillon de Bebe by Nikko Lee

  • Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    by Nicole Gestalt, Crysta Coburn, J.T Seate, Nikko Lee, V.C., Zak Jane Keir, Blair, Regina Kammer, Jim Lee

    Contains Boson's Mate by Nikko Lee

  • The Big Book of Bizarro
    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

    Contains Honey-Do by Nikko Lee

  • Between Love and Lust
    Between Love and Lust
    by Nikko Lee

    E-book

    Print-on-demand paperback

  • Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    by J. Troy Seate, Patricia McCarthy, Nikke Lee, Andrea Saavedra, James Hartley, Edward McKeown, Mike Graves, J.E. Gurley, Zakk Erikson, David Bernstein C.C. Blake

    Contains Pure Delight by Nikko Lee

Saturday
Feb192011

Good grammar is my friend

There are so many aspects of writing I enjoy. I love creating and exploring new characters then putting them through all manner of adventures to face their fears and flaws. I love world building, as difficult and frustrating as it can be. For all the things that I love about writing, I am well aware of one my greatest writing flaw. Grammar.

Editing is often hard for writers. There is lots of advice about putting a manuscript down for several weeks if not months before editing it. I try to follow that advice. However, a lot of phrasing that seems natural to me is awkward and difficult to read. Not to mention, grammatically incorrect.

Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, has been my grammar goddess for the last year. Her podcast provides short and insightful tips to remember grammar rules. Her blog and books are definite go-to-guides for the grammatically challenged like me.

Because I refuse to pay for office on my computer, I use open office for a simple word program. The built-in grammar and spelling checks are rather limited. As I get ready to submit Dark Heritage, I am trying to get it as polished as I can. This means fixing all my quirky sentence structures and aversion to using commas. I looked around for some online grammar correctors and decided on Grammarly. This subscription-based, online grammar checker is amazing.

Since it is difficult for me to spot my mistakes without having them underlined in red, Grammarly is ideal for me. It has introduced me to grammar concepts I have never heard of, such as squinting the modifier. It also reminds me to separate clauses with commas. In addition, Grammarly has some capability to pick out context dependent errors. These include commonly misplaced words and vague words. The program also suggests synonyms. The program also suggests synonyms. The most valuable part of Grammarly is that it provides explanations as to why a piece was flagged for review and examples of incorrect versus corrected sentences.

Although the frugal writer in me hates spending money on something I should be able to do myself, Ithink it's money well spent.

So a little demo. This posting has been proofed with Grammarly. Below is the version that I edited myself. Grammarly picked up 8 potential problems to fix.

Good grammar is about more than just knowing and following the rules. For me, it's about writingsomething that is readable. I want my next editor to be able to focus on the larger issues instead of being mired in basic grammar corrections that I should be able to do myself.

****

pre-Grammarly

There are so many aspects of writing I enjoy. I love creating and exploring new characters then putting them through all manner of adventures to face their fears and flaws. I loveworld building, as difficult and frustrating as it can be. For all the things I love about writing, I am well aware of one my major writing flaw. Grammar.

Editing is often hard for writers. There is lots of advice about putting a manuscript down for several weeks if not months before editing it. I try to follow that advice. However, a lot of phrasing that seems natural to me is awkward and difficult to read. Not to mention, grammatically incorrect.

Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, has been my grammar goddess for the last year. Her podcast provides short and insightful tips to remember grammar rules. Her blog and books are definite go-to-guides for the grammatically challenged like me.

Because I refuse to pay for office on my computer, I use open office for a simple word program. Anyone who has ever used the built-in grammar and spelling checks available on most word processing programs knows how limited they are. As I get ready to submit Dark Heritage, I am trying to get it as polished as I can. This means fixing all my quirky sentence structures and aversion to using commas. I looked around for some online grammar correctors and decided on Grammarly. This subscription-based, online grammar checker is amazing.

Since it is difficult for me to spot my mistakes without having them underlined in red, Grammarly is ideal for me. It has introduced me to grammar concepts I have never heard of, such as squinting the modifier. It also reminds me to separate clauses with commas. In addition, Grammarly has some capability to pick out context dependent errors. These include commonly misplaced words and vague words. Synonyms are also suggested. The most helpful part of Grammarly is that it provides explanations as to why a section was flagged for review and examples of incorrect versus corrected sentences.

Although the frugal writer in me hates spending money on something I should be able to do myself, I think it's money well spent.

So a little demo. This posting has been proofed with Grammarly. Below is the version that I edited myself.

Good grammar is about more than just knowing and following the rules. For me, it's about writing something that is readable. I want my next editor to be able to focus on the larger issues instead of being mired in the basic grammar corrections I should be able to do myself.

Sunday
Feb062011

Power to the reader

I have found yet another excellent writing/publishing podcast to go through the back list on. Adventures in SciFi Publishing has some excellent interviews with authors and publishers. One of their focus in several interviews has been the future of the publishing industries. I've been listening from newest to oldest and it is interesting to see the shifting views of of self-publishing. For some great discussion on self-publication versus traditional print publication check out recent episodes of Michel Plested's Get Published podcast.

The print publication industry has traditionally been viewed as the standard in quality. However, I can't tell you how many times I've read a book jacket or even an entire book and wondered to myself how did this make it to print. We aren't talking literature here but commercial fiction. There's a lot of variety in the quality of novels that make it to the shelves of the book stores. The sheer volume of submissions that traditional publishers have to shift through to find the diamonds in the rough is mind-boggling. So many good books get passed over. So many others are the only thing that author will ever publish.

There is a lot of room for reader preference in the market. With e-readers it is easier than ever to buy a novel and take it wherever you go. I have yet to purchase one, but I am sorely tempted because of the ease of transport. Part of me still wants to hold that physical copy. But more than anything I want a good read.

In a recent interview on Adventures in SciFi Publishing, the issue of self-publishing has been revisited with authors who have been coming around to the idea. There's no argument that a contract with a major publishing firm is still highly sought out. However, just because a novel can't attract the attention of an agent or a publisher doesn't mean it isn't worth publishing.

There are numberous platforms and venues for the would-be author to self-publish their novel. From Lulu.com to Podiobook.com, writers can now correctly format their manuscript for e-distribution at Amazon.com, set up on-demand print publishing, or distribute audio versions of their works.

There are a few authors who have gone the self-publication route and developed big enough audiences to garner the attention of print publishers. The long held view that self-published material is inferior to print publications is giving way as such quality self-publishers as Scott Sigler and Nathan Lowell distribute their content for free. They and many others are showing the publishing industry that they don't have a lock on quality.

The biggest boon of self-publishing is that it allows readers to access authors that have been passed over by the print publishers. Never before have readers had such access whether through sample chapters or entirely free releases to find the stories and authors that speak to them. Instead of relying on the publishers to select what should be read, readers can judge for themselves what is worth reading.

Maybe you are into steampunk erotica. Maybe you prefer golden age space odysseys. Maybe you want westerns with zombies.

With the number of writers out there the possibilities are endless. Quality varies, but now it is up to the reader to do their homework and read samples. The issue for an author becomes producing high quality work and marketing it. Given that most print published authors have to do this anyways why not go the self-publishing route if the print publishers aren't interested?

Maybe it means hiring an editor and graphic artist. But isn't it worth it to get your work the its audience? Afert all, authors write to be read.

Wednesday
Feb022011

Project round-up

The beginning of a new month is always a good time to take stock and plan. I've typically been a one project at a time writer. Once I get distracted by an incredible new idea everything else goes right out the window. Why is it so much easier to start a project than to complete one? With writing there are so many steps and stages that the biggest hurdle is finish something.

I am somewhat familiar with some of the stage given my experience with getting Between Love and Lust published. That's probably a saga worthy of its own blog post. Here are some of the stages I've encountered on my writing journey:

The idea (wonderful, captivating, infectious, must be written)

The first draft (after months or years of struggling with unruly characters, plots that go no where you, and life getting in the way finally finish your first draft. Admire your work for a few minutes. Then lock it in a drawer for a few weeks/months.)

The ump-teenth drafts (re-write, review, edit, get comments from beta read comments and re-write again, edit some more, edit again)

The submission (now send your baby out into the world to be judge and rejected time and again. There will 'we aren't interested' rejections, partial-acceptances followed the 'on second though our catalog is full' rejections, more submissions, finally getting an acceptance (don't even think it's a sure deal yet), the editor revisions or an entire re-write.)

The black box of publishing (contracts, waiting for your editor, more editing, cover art selection, final proofs assuming your editor hasn't disappeared or publisher hasn't folded.

Hurray you've been published!

Finally, you get to hold your published book in your hands. Don't think you are done yet. Now you need to market and publicize your book because if it doesn't sell how eager do you think your publisher is going to be to pick up your next wonderful novel that you've slaves months or even years over?

Here is the status of my current projects.

Between Duty and Desire (a sequel to Between Love and Lust): first draft completed and my publisher is closed to submissions. They've got first rejection rights but I was given the go ahead to shop it around until submissions re-open. It's currently sitting at 61k words and needs some major plot massaging and re-writing.

Shadowfall series:

  1. Dark Heritage- received some valued comments from my beta-readers only to realize that I need to do another re-write. I am determined that this won't be an endless project, but there are some elements that need to be tightened up and some long narratives that need to make the transition from tell to show. Not to mention it's a hair over 100K. Pruning will be in order before I submit it. I've got a few agents in mind to try it out on.
  2. Books 2 and 3- currently in rough first draft state. I am hesitant to clean them up until I figure out what is going to happen with Dark Heritage. If I can't get an agent, print publisher, or e-publisher for the series I might just try to self-publishing route. I like the idea of leaving it up to the readers and not the agents and publishers to judge if a book is worth purchasing.
  3. Book 4- believe it or not a friend got me motivated to write the next book. The series has a ways to go before completion, anywhere from 2 to 6 more books.

Other projects:

  1. Getting my name out there- I've got my Good Reads, Shelfari, and Amazon author profiles up. Check them out (please, I need the hits). I even created a Facebook author page.
  2. Maintaining my blogs- I'm trying to post one writing journal, picky reader review, and Genetics and Genetic research post each week. It might be a little ambitious for me. I shudder to think of those ambitious aspiring authors with multiple blogs, web pages, and podcasts. They are my inspiration, but sometimes make me feel like a sloth.

That's about it in addition to getting my website running and linked to anything relevant to improve my hits. Apparently to get on the search engine results pages a website needs to be linked like crazy. I'm also trying out a few blog roll/RSS feeders so I don't have to manually re-post blog entries.

Sunday
Jan302011

Hi. My name is Michelle, and I'm a romance novelist.

When I was a teenager I used to scoff at my great-grandmothers who would exchange trashy romance novels. Beyond my astonishment that they had any interest in romance at all, I always thought those books were as low on the fiction scale as you could get. Most had little to no plot. Most were so dated that the female characters rarely had much to do other than moon over a man.

I've never had aspiration of writing literary fiction. Because of the serious nature of my studies and career path I preferred to read and write what I call brain candy. Terrifying horrors, fantastic worlds, far off sci-fi adventures, paranormal adventures all held my attention and imagination much more than reality based dramas or mysteries.

Often reading a novel would send my mind racing down 'what ifs' until I wanted to write my own version of the adventure. It wasn't easy for me as a modern woman to admit to myself that romance was one of my favorite elements to a story. Nearly all my stories involves some aspect of romance. I love having the lives of two fully developed characters intersect and intertwine. I love separating them by their own choices and emotions or outside events and the evolution of the plot. 

While romance is always important in my stories it is meaningless without good solid characters and an interesting, fast-paced plot. Romance novels are often viewed as little more than drivel. And bad romance novels are. However, creating a compelling romance novel is an art.

In the last decade, the romance novel has been gaining new respect. Romance is arguably the most read genre of fiction with numerous sub-genres from erotic (Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward) to time-travel (Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon).

Far from being a shameful secret to hide, I've had to come to terms with my love of romance and proclaiming that I am a romance writer. With any luck (and a whole lot of hard work), I will become a romance author.

Saturday
Jan222011

The Plot Thickens

I was reminded this morning by a good friend and prodder that while Dark Heritage is nearing the point where I can start shopping around for an agent with it the Shadowfall series is far from over. While Between Love and Lust was the first book I ever published I wanted to write a series that was not so explicit. Sex sells but it also can limit the audience. My brother tells me he'd like to read my my writing but not Between Love and Lust. I also have some qualms about sharing Between Love and Lust with my grand-mother.

Shadowfall is a romantic dark fantasy series. I spent about a year writing the first draft of the first three books. This fall I worked on editing the first book. Now I am anxiously awaiting final comments from my beta-readers before I write my next draft and start submitting query letters to potential agents. My dream is to get a print contract for the Shadowfall series. First things first, I need to get Dark Heritage (the first book in the series) finished.

I do have the next two books to edit, something that will take a while. However, the story doesn't end at book three. I'm not really sure how many more books it will take to get to a happily-ever-after, but that's something I want to give these two main characters.

I've got my main characters. I kind of know what happens in the first third of book four. And then... That's what I'm working on. A good plot intertwines many characters with their own lives, motivations, and goals. My favorite books are the ones in which seemingly disconnected plot threads intersect and build on each other. My favorite manga did this very well. Blade of the Immortal written by Hiroaki Samura (published in English by Dark Horse) has so many twists and turns that I often have to read each issue several times to pick up all the little details not only in the dialogue but also in the illustrations.

Book 4 has a main thread and now I must combine it with other threads in order to make a complete stories. Every character is the main character in the story of their own lives. Even if I restrict which characters I focus on I can't make the characters around them one dimensional plot props. I really hate it when authors just throw something in (a character or event) to bump the plot along or alter it dramatically when it doesn't fit into the rest of the story. Bad guys have dreams too. For me, actions have to make sense in terms of a character's personality and opportunity.

One of my favorite challenges is trying to put together a plot that has foreshadowing but enough twists and turns that on the first read unexpected things happen but on subsequent reads the intricate weaving of the plot is seen. Because Shadowfall takes place in a fantasy realm I need to keep in mind the rules of the world and find ways to bend them without breaking them so that in the end my characters prevail.