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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Panel: Meet the Mainstream Author

Come Inside and Meet:

R. Barri Flowers, Bettye Griffin, Marissa Monteilh, Margo Candela, Karen Duvall

41 comments:

Karen Duvall said...

Welcome to the mainstream author panel! Hi, my name is Karen Duvall and I'm a published author of suspense and thriller novels. My supernatural thriller, PROJECT RESURRECTION, was published by Speculation Press in 2000 and was under consideration with Rosemont Productions for a made-for-cable-television movie. Unfortunately, it never made it any further than the producers' desk. 8^) My most recent book, a romantic suspense called DESERT GUARDIAN, was published by The Wild Rose Press in October of last year. My novella that's part of the Legacy of the Celtic Brooch series (TWRP) is called FOR LOVE OR MONEY and will be out as an ebook on Wednesday, August 29th.

I enjoy writing action adventure stories, and sometimes these stories are spooky, sometimes romantic, and sometimes they're edgy fantasy tales set in contemporary times. The genres are different, but the heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat plots are more in the mainstream.

What exactly is mainstream fiction? Some people think it's fiction that doesn't fall under a specific genre category. Actually, that type of story would be considered "general" fiction. Something becomes mainstream when it's in the mainstream of popular interest.

I like to mix current events with my stories and have my plots driven by the characters. It's common for mainstream fiction to color outside genre lines, push genre limits, or just explore boundaries that are more interesting when they're blurred. 8^) There's no room for formulas in a mainstream novel.

I'm pleased to be here with my fellow panelists R. Barri, Bettye, Marissa and Margo, and I look forward to seeing your questions.

Karen Duvall
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Marissa Monteilh said...

Greetings readers! This is my first time here and I'm excited about participating. I look forward to your questions. In the meantime, below please find a short bio. I'll be back later to reply to specific inquiries.

Peace and love,

MARISSA MONTEILH (Mon -Tay)

I originally self-published my first novel, MAY DECEMBER SOULS, in November 2000. By 2001, I signed with HarperCollins, who re-released MAY DECEMBER SOULS in March 2002, and then released my second book, THE CHOCOLATE SHIP in 2003. That same year, I signed to write a third title for HarperCollins called HOT BOYZ, the story of three well-to-do brothers who experience life's ups and downs while living in an upscale neighborhood of Los Angeles called Ladera Heights.

In 2004 I signed a two-book deal with Kensington Books for MAKE ME HOT and for DR. FEELGOOD, which were released in 2006 and 2007, respectively. I just completed my 2008 book called SOMETHING HE CAN FEEL, which is about spousal abuse at the hands of a wife. I also contributed to an erotica anthology call MORNING, NOON, and NIGHT: CAN'T GET ENOUGH.

bettye griffin said...

Good morning, all! Thanks for stopping by; and thanks to LaShaunda for organizing this online conference. (Applause).

I'm Bettye Griffin. My third mainstream novel, If These Walls Could Talk, was just published in June. I began my writing career in 1998 with the first of ten Arabesque romances. I do enjoy writing romance, but mainstream has always been my first love.

My mainstream career began in 2005, with the publication of The People Next Door by the Dafina imprint of Kensington Publishing. I enjoy putting my characters in awkward situations, and this one was a doozy, ex-spouses who, due to perfectly believable circumstances, find themselves living next door to each other.

I followed this up in 2006 with Nothing But Trouble, about friends and business partners struggling with life's challenges, and the troublesome sister of one of them who leaves her mark on all three.

If These Walls Could Talk is about three families who leave New York with its out-of-reach housing costs for the green suburbs of Pennsylvania, but those blue skies and green grass bring with it plenty of red ink. This is a very timely book, considering the current ruckus in the housing industry.

I just turned in the manuscript for my 2008 novel, Once Upon A Project. This ambitious story is about lifelong friends in Chicago turning 50, which is a crossroads for all of them in more ways than just a milestone birthday.

I am now working on several projects, including a follow-up to The People Next Door due to reader demand.

"Talk" atcha later!

Bettye Griffin
www.bettyegriffin.com
www.chew-the-fat-with-Bettye.blogspot.com

LaShaunda said...

Good morning everyone,

Welcome to our panel, thanks for taking time out of your day to answer questions.

Here's mine.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

LaShaunda said...

How do you write your story, on the computer, long hand, talk in a tape recorder?

Margo Candela said...

Good morning. Margo Candela here.

I have two books out this year, UNDERNEATH IT ALL (Kensington/Jan 07) and LIFE OVER EASY (Kensington/Sep 07). I went into this whole thing with the goal to write mainstream women's fiction with Latina characters, but not limit myself to a certain genre of fiction like chick-lit or chica-lit. My aim has always been to write mainstream books with a twist based on my unique perspective as a Latina.

My third book features two leads, one male, one female, one Latino and one white and its due on Monday!

Margo

LaShaunda said...

Requests for blurbs, I get asked this a lot. I don’t mind for fellow writer friends, but I get a lot from people I don’t know and they want me to blurb a book I’ve never read. If I’m going to attach my name to a blurb, I want to read the book. How do you handle requests for blurbs or referrals?

Margo Candela said...

LaShaunda,

Margo here. So far I've been asked twice and I've been honored to provide them after reading the manuscript. It's always hard to ask and I really appreciate the authors who have taken the time to blurb me. That being said, I really have to have a connection with the writer or the book to do it and I'd expect anyone asked to blurb my novels to feel the same way. This is where your agent earns her percentage by finessing the situation so there are minimal hurt feelings on both sides.

Margo
www.margocandela.com

Marissa Monteilh said...

Great questions, LaShaunda!

Let's see, as far as something I wish I'd known earlier, I'd say I wish I'd known that going from self-pub to a publishing house requires the same amount of marketing and promotion as when you're publishing on your own. (I seem to hear this all the time now, though I didn't hear it back in 2002) You wear the same hats and work just as hard in getting the word out. What I do appreciate is that the production aspect is handled, and many more people are involved in getting that title ready for release, (especially proofreading :-) so you really do have more time to write. I enjoyed self-publishing but prefer the traditional houses.

When I write, I use the computer 99.9% of the time. If I'm on an airplane or someplace where I cannot or do not want to get my laptop, I can write longhand, though I feel this involves twice as much time in the long run and so I try to avoid it. I do not use a recorder and I'm nowhere near as organized as I should be. I end up with notes in my car, beside my bed, in my purse, in a folder, and then I run around in the 11th hour trying to gather them all up. I need to get better at that. (Maybe I do need to use a recorder, huh?)

Thanks - ready for more . . .

Marissa Monteilh

Dyanne said...

Hello everyone,


I thought I'd pop over here and see what's going on.

LaShaunda said...

What was your best fan letter and your worst?

bettye griffin said...

If I'd known then what I know now . . . oh, gosh, who knows? Nothing jumps out at me. I'm not much for regrets.

My books get written between a combination of direct input into a computer and transcription from a handheld, which I use when I'm driving (although I've had a few mishaps where I thought I had hit the Record button but only hit Play 'cuz, after all, it's not like I can look at what I'm doing) and when I'm out walking for exercise.

Nobody has ever asked me for a blurb or referral, and I admit to wondering how many people endorsing a book with basic comments like, "Un-put-downable!" or "Riveting!" have actually read the thing. The very possibility of being approached is kind of scary. I mean, what if I don't like the book?

My most touching reader letters (I never liked the term 'fan,' for same nutty reason it makes me envision a concert audience of screaming teenyboppers or grown women who ought to know better throwing their panties up on stage) came from my second book, A Love Of Her Own, a romance addressing infertility. Many women wrote to say they suffered from this condition and were thrilled to see it represented in romance.

On the other side, I've had a few rambling letters from readers complaining about "keeping it real" (which I thought was pretty funny, considering my romances have never contained a fantasy element and are among the most real ones out there!) because they didn't like the fact that one of my heroines struggled with her weight, or that one of my heroes had blue eyes, etc.

My personal favorite was not written to me, but rather was posted on a review site. It said, "Note to author: Please don't ever write another book." That one still brings up a belly laugh.

Hope I didn't go on too long.

Bettye Griffin
www.bettyegriffin.com
www.chew-the-fat-with-Bettye.blogspot.com

LaShaunda said...

That's funny Bettye,

Why do readers feel they have the right to tell you what to do?

I once had someone tell me they didn't like the color of SORMAG when it first was started. I used shades of brown. (shades as the theme) She said it was romance and shouldn't be brown.

My mother told me if someone has something to say, tell them they are free to help make changes. So whenever I get a critism, I offer them a job. Of course they never accept LOL.

Writing isn't as easy as it looks.

Vicki M. Taylor said...

Hi panelists!

Thanks for appearing today.

What tips do you have for an author trying to break into mainstream with a non-traditional (not genre specific) book?

And, what happened first for you? Agent or publisher?

Marissa Monteilh said...

My best letter was from a reader who, after reading May December Souls, was moved to contact her estranged father after 10 years and finally make amends. That really hit home with me and touched me deeply. My "most interesting" letter was from a woman who told me there's no way my character Mariah, from May December Souls, could have been called Sade back in high school (due to her large forehead) because Sade was not popular when the character was in school. She also had a few other comments, but actually, she was correct, and we made the Sade change in the next print run. I appreciate constructive criticism though I don't know if people understand sometimes how much goes into writing a 100k word novel. For the most part, my books have been well received, though you can't please everyone and I don't even begin to try. You must be true to your mind's eye and the characters you create.

Vicki, I have a tips page on my website at www.MarissaMonteilh.com. I secured an agent first, who shopped my titles back in 2001. He asked me to give him 1 month and sure enough, we had the deal. Things have changed since then, though there are deals being made.

Marissa Monteilh

bettye griffin said...

Gotta say this first, Hi, Dyanne!

LaShaunda, I guess readers feel that way because they spent their money on my book (at least I hope they spent their money on it and didn't borrow it from a friend! But I suppose that even investing one's time can make a person feel they should have a say. I don't have a problem with it, although it might make me chuckle. I welcome all comments, good, bad, or indifferent.

Vicki, I had a publisher before an agent, but I think if I had a non-traditional story I'd try to get an agent first.

Bettye

bettye griffin said...

Marissa,
I can appreciate your experience with the name Sade. One of the hardest things to do in novel writing is to keep the pop culture references within the right time. In my first book, I had a character tell another that she hadn't seen her this upset over a man "since Jermaine married Hazel." My editor returned this with a note: "Who is Jermaine and why don't we hear anything else about him?" This wasn't an error per se, but I realized that many in the reading audience wouldn't know what the heck I was talking about (and that I was getting old).

If you don't know what pop culture reference this is, don't worry about it!

Bettye

Anonymous said...

Good day, all, and welcome to the panel of mainstream authors!

I'm R. Barri Flowers. I have five mainstream mystery/thriller novels to my credit, including STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, 2006) and JUSTICE SERVED (Dorchester, 2005). The latter was a Finalist in the 2005 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards.

I also write romance novels under the name Devon Vaughn Archer. These too are more mainstream than most contemporary romances as I like to give my readers stories that are not genre specific.

My new romance novel, CHRISTMAS HEAT, will be published in December 2007 by Kimani Romance.

I write mainstream short stories as well. Visit Amazon Shorts to check out my stories, "Doing the Right Thing" and "Gone But Not Forgotten."

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=15713569&postID=4448928669960019448&isPopup=true

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000V5BQF2/ref=dp_bib_1/002-7076545-6259244

Visit my website, CrimeSpace, and MySpace pages :

http://www.myspace.com/devonvaughnarcher

http://www.rbarriflowers.com/DevonVaughnArcher.html

I look forward to hearing from you and answering questions that come my way.

Best,

Barri

Anonymous said...

Hello from R. Barri again:

Actually the link for my mainstream Amazon Short mystery, "Gone But Not Forgotten" is as follows:

http://www.amazon.com/Gone-But-Not-Forgotten/dp/B000V5BQF2/ref=sr_1_1/002-7076545-6259244?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188329341&sr=1-1

LaShaunda said...

Bettye,

I know who Jermanie(Jackson) and Hazel (Gordy). I guess the officially means I'm old. LOL

Patricia W. said...

Hi All!

Marissa, I wonder whether I'd have caught that one.

Cracking up, Bettye, at the Jermaine-Hazel reference. No question in my mind, 'cuz I'm getting old too!

I was thinking about this issue just this morning. I find most pop culture/celebrity reporting annoying at best, so I stay away from it. But without being up on things like music, fashion, and celebrity, it's likely that my writing will be dated. If I'm writing about thirtysomethings, as in my current wip, I have to make sure I'm not throwing in my fortysomething references.

How do you published folks handle this?

Dyanne said...

Marrissa,


Hi. You all have a very lively discussion going on in here. Good!!

Dyanne

bettye griffin said...

Hey all you old folks (laughing),

Pat, maybe it's not so much pop culture as being astute to the era you're writing about. In the 1930s and 1940s, many black parents named their sons after Franklin D. Roosevelt. I have a friend named Lana after Lana Turner. And my own mother absolutely adored Bette Davis, even if she didn't care for the spelling.

I've read books where someone of average means possessed a color TV in the mid 1950s, which was not the case. Or where current-day children had names like Debbie and Patty and Mary, a dead giveaway that the author grew up in another generation. A sharp-eyed editor will catch these, but most editors today are overworked, so writers better sharpen their wits.

It's hard to keep up with, and unfortunately I don't know of any short cuts.

Bettye

Karen Duvall said...

LaShaunda asked:
What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

How do you write your story, on the computer, long hand, talk in a tape recorder?


I'm glad I didn't know much of anything before I was published because it might have discouraged me from sticking to it, lol! Seriously, when the writing becomes more business-oriented, it's not as fun as it used to be for me. It can be challenging trying to get the fun back,

I used to write long hand, then key it all into a computer file, but not since my first book. Now I type everything from beginning to end.

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

bettye griffin said...

Forgot to mention that you could probably populate a medium-sized city with all the Shirley Temple namesakes. Just about everybody, from actress Shirley Maclaine to our own Shirley Hailstock, was named after that little moppet.

Karen Duvall said...

LaShaunda asked:
How do you handle requests for blurbs or referrals?

I never refer, only because that's such a subjective thing. What I think is fabulous an editor may not have the same opinion.

I have given blurbs, but only if I've read the book or short story.

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Karen Duvall said...

I think the best fan letter I had wasn't really a letter, but a request from one of my daughter's friends. He didn't own a car and wanted to know the next time I'd be in town to visit my daughter so that he could take the bus over and meet me, and have me sign his book. He was so sweet! He actually did come over to my daughter's house the next time I was there, and brought his copy of PROJECT RESURRECTION for me to sign. His hands were shaking, he was so nervous. He said the book had a profound effect on him. It's always special to hear something like that from a reader.

I've never had a bad fan letter, or a bad review. I've been very fortunate to have received great reviews on both my books.

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Karen Duvall said...

Vicki asked:
What tips do you have for an author trying to break into mainstream with a non-traditional (not genre specific) book?

And, what happened first for you? Agent or publisher?


Just like with any novel, it has to be special. The subject, the voice, the characters... It has to stand out, be different, but not too different.

Even then, though, if the publisher can't figure out where it should be shelved in the book store, that can work against you. Mainstream writers often hear things like "I love it! I just don't know how to sell it." Very frustrating.

I've had two agents, neither of whom helped me sell my books to a publisher. 8^) Just one of those things. Both my books ended up with small presses, which I contacted on my own since it didn't require the representation of an agent.

I'm looking for an agent now, though. For my new urban fantasy series. Though I enjoyed my experience with both the small presses I'm published with, I'd really like an agent to represent my books to the bigger houses.

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Karen Duvall said...

Patricia asked about pop culture and how we handle it in the books we write. I love pop culture and do keep up with it for my own personal enjoyment, but it remains somewhat vague in the stories I write. Celebrities never appear unless in reference to something classic. I think colloquialisms are important to use in dialog for characters in the appropriate age groups or it won't come across as authentic. Just be sure a real person of the age you're writing about proofs it for you. 8^)

I know a lot of people worry about dating their work, but IMO, dating a book is a good thing. Our words live on and are timeless on their own, so if what we write reflects the times we're writing about, all the better!

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Karen Duvall said...

Bettye, I judged a contest recently where the time was set in the early sixties. The author mentioned birth control pills and a garbage disposal, and I thought, hey, those couldn't be invented yet. So I looked it up on the Internet discovered and I was wrong! LOL! I was a toddler in the sixties so wouldn't remember first hand, but it just seemed to me those things were more modern than they really were. Shows how much I know. That must be why I only write about the present.

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Marissa Monteilh said...

Okay Karen, Bettye, Patricia, Dyanne!

Old folks Monteilh here! Pop culture is a trip, and yes, not only do I remember being envious of Hazel for stealin' my man, I had a crush on Paul McCartney, okay?? My daughter tries to keep me up to date when I use some lame term, but I just let it flow. Also, just making sure all research is tight, like I said in one book that he rented a new Cadillac Catera and my editor told me they didn't make Cateras any longer - whatever!!!!! LOL

Karen Duvall said...

LOL, Marissa! My sister had a crush on Paul McCartney, too!

I'm getting the biggest kick out of this new tv show called Madmen that's set in 1960s Manhattan. The advertising guys in NYC were called Madmen because they worked in Manhattan and that's what the show is about. It's fascinating to witness the change in our culture in less than 50 years. Wow! Everyone smokes and drinks in every single scene. It's on the AMC channel and I love it. Totally hooked me, and it's like anti-pop culture, you know? Totally opposite of today, but with some wild similarities as far as the characters go. People will be people. 8^)

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Shelia E. Lipsey said...

Hi I'm shelia lipsey, author of 2 Christian fiction novels. Wow what a great conference! Question: what do you all believe is the main ingredient needed to classify mainstrean from other genres? Question 2: dud mainstream choose you or did you choose mainstream?

Anonymous said...

<< What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business? >>

If I could go back to the beginning of my writing career, I would have made sure I read a lot more novels in the genres I wanted to write in to have a better idea of what editors were looking for in terms of content, characterization, range, etc.

I also would have done my homework in getting a better handle on what editors wanted, which houses were most likely to publish this or that, and perhaps most of all -- finding a good agent with documented sales in the areas I focused on.

Happily I understand the ropes much better today and am only too happy to share my wisdom with new and aspiring writers.

Best,

R. Barri

"GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN" (Amazon Shorts, August 2007)
STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, 2006)

http://www.myspace.com/devonvaughnarcher
http://www.rbarriflowers.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great information! My question is how should an new author who is self-publishing approach an established author for a blurb?
Bernice McWilliams
www.bernicemcwilliams.com
conference e-mail address:starfield2020@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

<< How do you write your story, on the computer, long hand, talk in a tape recorder? >>

Once upon a time, I wrote all my books in long hand. Now I look back and wonder how on earth I managed to survive! Ha ha

Today it is strictly computer, though I have tossed around the idea from time to time of tape recording a book just to see if I could actually talk my way through a novel and it would be quicker. As of now, I have stuck with the true and tried, which has served me well.

R. Barri


"GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN" (Amazon Shorts, August 2007)
STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, 2006)


http://www.rbarriflowers.com
http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/RBarri
http://www.myspace.com/devonvaughnarcher

Karen Duvall said...

Sheila asked:

Question: what do you all believe is the main ingredient needed to classify mainstrean from other genres? Question 2: dud mainstream choose you or did you choose mainstream?

For me, I just enjoy reading and writing entertaining stories, and most of those stories cross genres. I find that cross genre stories are more mainstream because it combines themes and ideas.

Karen
http://www.karen-duvall.com
http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

<< How do you handle requests for blurbs or referrals? >>

In fact, I have no problem doing blurbs for authors I know or admire. I see this as free promotion while taking up little of my time.

This notwithstanding, I won't simply give a stamp of approval without at least being able to read a good portion of what I praise.

R. Barri

http://www.rbarriflowers.com
http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/RBarri
http://www.myspace.com/devonvaughnarcher

Anonymous said...

<< What tips do you have for an author trying to break into mainstream with a non-traditional (not genre specific) book? >>

My advice to you is to do your homework in trying to find an agent who will work with in getting your project to the right editor/publisher. Good agents not only act as the go between, but they give your manuscript credibility in the eyes of the editor and such agents would also have a good grasp on the market and who is looking for what. This can go a long ways toward placing your mainstream novel.

<< And, what happened first for you? Agent or publisher? >>

I sold my first book directly to publisher. Though all worked out, I probably could have gotten a better deal through a good agent. That said, agents are not always easy to find for new writers. However, if you are talented and persevere, some reputable agent will recognize this talent and sign you on for what could be a long and mutually rewarding relationship.

R. Barri Flowers

"GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN" (Amazon Shorts, August 2007)
STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, 2006)


http://www.rbarriflowers.com
http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/RBarri
http://www.myspace.com/devonvaughnarcher

Lupe said...

Really enjoyed this panel. So many authors out there. I'm making a 'to be read' list.

Lupe M. Gonzalez

bettye griffin said...

It's been fun, everybody! G'night!

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