A Contest!

WINNERS! The random number generator chose these lovely 5 people as winners: Niki, Kate, Heather, Pam, and Amy! Send me your mailing details at Lynn AT LynnRayeHarris DOT com and I will get your books to you! Niki and Kate are the lucky winners of UNNOTICED AND UNTOUCHED. The other three will receive backlist books. 🙂


It's time to christen the new website with a contest! I have books overflowing here. I need to get rid of some today. And here's the really great part: I'm going to give away Unnoticed and Untouched to two lucky winners. You cannot buy this book in North America. You may not ever be able to buy this book in North America. But you can have a chance to win it here today!

I'll also give away some backlist books. Three books from my backlist to three lucky winners — how's that sound?

The details: leave a comment, that's it. You will not be added to my newsletter or get any strange emails from me in the future. I'll let the contest run until Wednesday sometime. You MUST check back to see if you won. I won't chase you down. I won't send you emails or make Facebook or Twitter posts looking for you. In my experience, that doesn't work and it takes time. If you really want a book, you'll check back. You have 5 days to claim your prize. 🙂

To be kept informed of all my blog posts, including when I announce these random contests, you can subscribe to my blog. There's a box in the sidebar. Just add your email. This does NOT put you on my newsletter. That's a different box (see the bottom of the page for that one). I pledge not to spam you. I hate spam. I hate when I visit an author's website, leave a comment, and suddenly start getting emails. I hate it so much I won't do it to you.

The thing I don't get about spam, and I mean the penis enlargement ads and all that, is who ever clicks on that stuff? Surely someone does, or they wouldn't keep sending it. Right? I try to imagine who would do such a thing, but I can't.

Another blog contest

Winners: Thank you all so much for participating in my contest! I really enjoyed hearing what you've been reading. Sorry I was unable to comment individually, but I got very busy this week and ended up out of the house a bit. Without further ado, here are my winners, chosen by using the Random Number Generator – Aniya, Eli Yanti, Sara, Michela, and Melanie J. Thanks so much to everyone for participating. For the winners, please send me your mailing address at Lynn AT LynnRayeHarris DOT com and I'll get your prize packs to you soon. 🙂

This is an impromptu contest for you, my loyal readers! This weekend, Mr. Harris helped me start the process of clearing out my office for my new furniture. (Cherry bookcases and new desk! So happy!) To say I have a *lot* of books and promo sitting around is like saying there were a few boats on the River Thames for the Queen's Jubilee this weekend. 😉 So here's what I'm going to do:

I'm going to give away FIVE prize packs! Books (mine), various promo goodies I've collected from RWA, RT, and reader luncheons, and whatever else I can think of. All you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me what book you're reading right now (because I love hearing about books!). I will choose winners on Friday. But here is the catch. You MUST come back and check to see if you've won. I won't go looking for you. I just have too many things to do and no time to look for you. You must check back and you must send me an email with your details within 7 days. If you don't, I will re-award the prize to someone else.

Also, for the record, I do NOT collect your email addresses for my newsletter when you enter a blog contest. To sign up for my newsletter (which is quite infrequent, but which sometimes contains goodies not seen here on the site), you can do so here.

Edited to add: Friends, someone asked me if this is open internationally. The answer is YES. I will send goodies worldwide, though I retain the right to limit the amount of goodies due to postage when the location is international. Keep commenting! Love hearing about what you're reading!

Beach Reading

We have a winner! Shelley Bagby, it's your lucky day! The random number generator has chosen you, so please send me your details to claim your prize! Thanks everyone for stopping by, and keep checking back for more blog contests.

I finished a book last week and sent it to my editor. I always feel a little bit like a dog that's been straining against a chain and suddenly finds the chain has broken and she's free to run. I don't know where to run or what to do, so I zigzag a bit. I clean my office, make notes for other stories, open up old manuscripts and wonder if they can be saved. I go to the grocery store, do some laundry, and meet friends for lunch. I lollygag a bit, but I always have it in the back of my head that I have more work to do. The work is never, ever done when you write for a living.

One of the things I love to do, however, is read. I always buy way too many books with the hope that I'll read them all on my short break. I never do, but the nice thing about books is they don't expire. Happy sigh. Lately, I've been thinking back to the wonderful days I spent at the beach reading books. When I lived in Hawaii, every day was a beach day if you wanted it to be. Mr. Harris and I would load up the Jeep with chairs, towels, cooler, umbrella, sunscreen, and books. For me, lots of books.

I once spent about a week reading T. H. Lawrence's The Seven Pillars of Wisdom at the beach. There's still sand in the book when I open it now. I love that. Of course I didn't always read giant tomes like Lawrence. I also read plenty of romances and other literature. One of my best memories of Hawaii is all that beach reading. I sat in the shade whenever possible and read book after book. It was glorious, with the sparkling ocean, the green Ko'olau Mountains in the background, the sound of the surf, the white clouds scudding overhead, and the company of friends who also sat and read.

In fact, little aside, but the beach in Hawaii is where I reconnected with the Presents line after not having read it for a few years. I'd just met Jane Porter and thought she was so smart and articulate that I had to read her books. I bought her latest Harlequin and dived in. And then I went and bought more. Presents are great beach reads!

This summer, I have my own beach read for you. Captive But Forbidden is a July release from Harlequin Presents. It's full of all the passion and emotion you've come to expect from the line, but there's also a bit of a twist. The heroine is the newly-elected president of her tiny nation. When there are threats against Veronica St. Germaine's life, she needs a better bodyguard than the official ones she has already. That's where Raj Vala comes in. He's tall, dark, handsome, rich, and just as arrogant and powerful as you want a Presents hero to be. And he's not about to take any crap from Veronica.

The sparks are sparky. The sex is hot. Stuff happens.

I loved writing this book, with my half-Indian ex-Special Forces hero and a heroine who used to be a very, very bad girl. I keep hearing from readers that it's different, that it's not what they were expecting. I like that! I call this book my special snowflake book, and it is. I hope you'll give it a try! Read it on the beach. Or by the pool. Or even in the comfort of your home. If you've already read and enjoyed the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or both!).

And now, to help at least one of you have a nice beachy time, I'll give away one copy of Captive But Forbidden today, along with a beach towel, a tote, a pair of flip flops, some goodies from me, and a $5 Starbucks card (so you can get an icy latte on the way to the beach/pool!). Leave a comment to be entered to win. I'll announce a winner on Friday. 🙂

There are no musts

Thanks everyone for your comments! Using the Random Number Generator, I came up with #6, which is Amber! Amber, you can send your 5 pages to me at Lynn AT LynnRayeHarris DOT com.

Okay, maybe there's one: Thou shalt not bore thy reader.

Aside from that, all rules are rather like Captain Barbosa's view of the pirate code: they're guidelines. Guidelines exist for good reason. They are meant to keep you from making the kind of mistakes that others have made before you. They are a set of guide posts to help you along the way.

But they aren't set in stone. They can be flouted if you feel the need. (But make sure you know why you need to flout them.)

Why did this post come about? Because yesterday, under the hashtag #pubtips, someone on Twitter said that you must not ever change point of view during a scene because you wouldn't *ever* sell your book if you did. That's a pretty intense statement.

And it's simply not true. Many authors jumped in to say how they'd sold 10, 20, 30 books to their publishers without following that particular “rule.” Now, on the other hand, I think I know what the person who said it meant. She was judging contest entries and POV was all over the place. It was jarring for her.

That is a problem. If you are jarring the reader with your guideline flouting, then maybe you need to take another look at the guideline and try to see why it is one. People don't make these things up just to give you a hard time. They do exist for a reason.

And maybe you should learn how to control POV with one per scene until you've got that down so pat that you can then make deliberate choices on when to exercise the option of switching to another character's head. Merely a suggestion.

Me, I'm pretty much a purist. I believe, for me, that POV is best done one character and one scene at a time. It's just the way I roll. I think it makes for a more cohesive story, and for a better bonding experience with the viewpoint character. It's hard for me to care about someone whose head I leave after a paragraph.

However, even I, the purist, have been known to make a mid-scene switch. I can't remember which book I first did it in, but it might be my 3rd or 4th. The scene started in one POV. It needed to continue in the other. Usually, I have no problem with a scene break in the middle and then continuing right on. But this time, the scene break was jarring. This time, the scene was so highly charged that the only way to keep the tension up and make the switch was to simply make the switch.

I have, to this day, not gotten ONE piece of mail or one review that claims I did it all wrong, or tells me I'm an idiot who doesn't know how to write. Not one. Remember that. (And if I get one after this, I'll know one of you is messing with me.) 😉

Unfortunately, when we are still unpublished, we are searching, searching, searching for what might be holding us back from obtaining the brass ring. It's really, really hard to take a good look at your work and realize that maybe the problem is your story. So we search for reasons why we were rejected without realizing the story isn't quite right. Having a story rejected doesn't make you a bad writer. Not at all!

When I go back and look at some of the things I did before I was published, I see it now. I see what was wrong that I couldn't see then. Yes, I was a POV purist and yes, my book was written in Courier New 12 point font with exactly 25 lines per page, and yes I kept the backstory to a minimum and didn't dump it into the first chapter.

But that isn't always enough! I wrote some technically perfect things. But they are lacking in life and spark. They lack what I've learned since, which is that good story is far more than technical perfection. You must know who your characters are and what they want. You must know why not getting what they want is a very bad thing. And you must know why you won't give them what they want but will make it all work out anyway.

Do not write with rules in mind. Write with the story in mind. Write with the goal of creating something compelling and uniquely yours. Yes, in my line there are a zillion marriages of convenience. Yours won't be like any of the others because yours will be in your voice. Right? You won't imitate, and you won't slavishly follow a set of rules someone gave you.

There is no secret handshake, friends. There is only hard work and growing your craft. You can write your story in Arial or Times New Roman. (It should really still be double spaced when you submit it, but it doesn't have to be when you're writing if that's what you prefer.) You can let Word figure out where to break the page (I do turn off Widows and Orphans, however). You should still put a header up there with your title, name, and the page numbers. Just in case someone prints it out and gets things out of order somehow.

You can change POV in a scene, even multiple times (though I'd be careful — do not jar). You can make your heroine a CEO and your hero a construction worker (though probably not in Presents, I gotta tell you). You can do just about anything so long as you do NOT bore the reader. You don't have to start your story with dialogue. You don't even have to have both characters on the first page together. But there are certain conventions in a category romance, and you really should know what they are if that's what you want to write.

A hero and heroine who don't meet for 3 chapters just isn't going to work in a category romance. Though I'll bet there's a published author out there who did it so well that she sold the book and never looked back. It's entirely possible. I still don't recommend you do it, however. 🙂

Now go forth and write compelling stories with characters readers will care about. If you need to switch POV, switch it. If you need to drop some backstory in, do it. But know WHY you do these things and make sure you couldn't do them better by doing them another way. Just don't ever say that you absolutely must do something a certain way or you won't publish. I can promise you no editor is going to read your story, be super excited by your characters and premise, and then get to a POV change and drop the book in disgust. “Too bad, we would have loved to publish this if only she hadn't made that switch.” Not gonna happen.

In my March book, Strangers in the Desert, the hero and heroine aren't in the same room together until page six. There might even be POV changes somewhere in the book, though I can't remember. And talk about taking the usual theme and twisting it? There's a secret baby — but it's the heroine who doesn't know the baby is hers. You can do anything so long as you motivate it well and tell it compellingly. (This book is an RT Book Reviews Top Pick for March, so something worked!)

Now tell me, what rules have you been told are absolute? I'm going to award a prize to one lucky aspiring author. I will read and critique your first scene, no more than five pages. Simply leave a comment on this post. I don't ordinarily read uncontracted work, for various reasons, but I really believe in helping people so I'm going to break that rule today. I'll choose a winner sometime this weekend, and you'll have 24 hours to submit your pages. Must be a romance, though can be any subgenre. My expertise is category and contemporary, so remember that. 🙂

Let's talk!

Author copies! A giveaway!

Winners! Thank you so much for all the comments! I'm glad everyone was excited about the possibility of winning one of these books. I decided to giveaway six copies and I used the Random Number Generator to choose the winners. This is who won:

Gina Brock
Stacie D
Shelley Bagby

But that's not all! Because I truly appreciate each and every one of my readers, everyone who commented on this giveaway (ending with Beth G) gets a choice of one of my backlist books! I will gift you Nook or Kindle copies if you are in the US (if you wish) or I will send paperbacks. If you are choosing a Nook or Kindle book, then you may choose any book currently available in that format (not Strangers, however, as it is not out yet). In paperback, you may choose from The Prince's Royal Concubine, Cavelli's Lost Heir, Chosen by the Sheikh (with Kim Lawrence), or The Man with the Money.

Congratulations to everyone and thank you for reading my books! 🙂 To claim your copy, send me an email using the Contact page on this site (you can find my address there, or you can use the form. Totally up to you!) I'll need your mailing address or your Kindle or Nook email. Tell me which book you want. For the people who won an author copy, you will be getting paperbacks, so please send your address. And that's it! Here's to a happy 2012!

I got lovely, beautiful author copies today! Aren't they pretty? Strangers in the Desert isn't due out until March, so this is way early. Which is awesome for YOU!

Because I'm going to give a copy or two (or maybe more) away here on the blog! I really love this story. It's about a gorgeous sheikh and the wife he thought was dead. What's not to love about that?!

The Desert King’s Lost Wife…

Isabella, the wife Sheikh Adan thought was dead, has just walked back into his life – on the eve of his wedding to another woman…

Now Adan is to be crowned King, Isabella must be his Queen – sharing his desert throne and the royal bed… But gone is the dutiful, pure girl he once knew – in her place is a defiant, sultry woman who makes Adan’s blood run hot… A woman who has no memory of being his wife…

Sound intriguing? How about an excerpt?

Isabella looked up in confusion. “Who are you?”

A shadow passed over his face before it hardened again. “Do you really expect me to believe you do not know?”

Anger and despair slashed through her in waves. It made no sense. And yet he hated her. This man hated her, and she had no idea why. Somehow, she found the strength to act, wrenching herself free from his grip.

Isabella hugged her arms around her torso as if to shield herself. She couldn’t bear to feel the anger and sadness ripping through her a moment longer. Couldn’t bear the currents of heat arcing across her nerve endings. The swirling confusion. The crushing desperation.

Grant had disappeared, but she knew it was so he could fetch one of the bouncers. He’d be back at any moment, and this man would be thrown out on his arrogant behind. She was going to enjoy that.

“Of course I don’t know you,” she snapped.

“On the contrary,” he growled, his dark eyes flashing hot, “you know me very well.”

Her heart pounded at the certainty in his voice. He was insane. Gorgeous, but insane. “I can’t imagine why you would think so.”

“Because,” he replied, his voice laced with barely contained rage, “you are my wife.”

Strangers in the Desert

Want one? Leave a comment to be entered! Happy New Year, y'all!

Why you shouldn’t give up

As the New Voices entrants find out who made the Top Twenty today, there is very likely to be a great deal of disappointment for the majority who did not advance to the next round. I've already seen some comments about quitting, which quite frankly shock me. I've said it on the NV Facebook page more than once: you can't let one contest define your career as a writer.

But if you do, if you wave the white flag and say, “This is not for me, I quit,” then thank you for leaving the field of battle to someone else who will, one day, find victory. Harsh? Maybe, but that's exactly what you're doing. If you quit, you're making it easier for those who remain because you will not be there to compete. More chances for the others if you give up.

You might think it's fine for me to sit here and be all snarky and superior when I'm a published author because, really, what do I know about it? I have an editor, contracts, books in the pipeline, books in stores, and books translated into other languages for people the world over to read. Lucky me, right? Oh yes, lucky me.

But you know why I have those things? Because I ultimately did not quit. Oh, but I did quit for a while — eight years to be exact. That's right, eight years.

One day, many years ago, I decided I wanted to write a romance novel. I loved historicals, so that's what I decided to write. I researched for a year. Wrote for another year. And then I submitted it. I had a little bit of interest — requests for fulls from agents and editors, contest wins — but in the end, the book was rejected. I couldn't get an agent, and I couldn't sell the book.

I was upset, of course. Because everyone (critique group & husband) told me it was a great book (it really wasn't, but I believed it at the time). I was destined to be a writer, so why couldn't I sell this book?! If only they would really read it. If only they would wait until I explained everything and the story got seriously interesting on page 100.

But they didn't, so I started another book. I never submitted that book. I started a third book, which I never finished and never submitted. See, I'd begun to believe it just wasn't worth the effort. If I couldn't sell that first brilliant (snort) book, what chance did I have of selling anything?

So I quit. It hurt too much to keep flinging myself at the gates of publishing. I decided to go back to school, finish that pesky college degree, and then go on and get a Master's degree. I moved to Europe with my husband and got busy traveling and going to school. It was fun! Who needed writing?

I did, because in truth I never quite stopped. I kept writing shorter stories, and of course I wrote a ton of college papers. But I just knew I'd never get published. It wasn't for me. I wasn't good enough to get past those gates.

But then one day I got an idea for a contemporary romance and I started to write. I just wrote the darned thing for fun! And I never did submit it. By then, the bug hit again, and I started to get involved with my work. And this time, I decided I wasn't quitting for anything.

So I did come back, and I did keep trying — and I won a contest and sold a book. If I'd quit for good, I wouldn't be a multi-published, bestselling author today. Don't you think I ask myself what would have happened if I hadn't quit? Would I have sold sooner? Would I be farther along in my career today? I'll never know that, will I?

If you've suffered defeat today, hugs. You have two choices facing you right now.

1) Hang up the keyboard and the pain that comes with it. Live your life and have fun and think about writing every once in a while. Sigh wistfully when you remember that story you never finished. Think fondly of your writing pals and be amazed at how successful some of them have become. But you're happy because the pain is over and you never would have gotten published anyway, right?

2) Don't stop. Get mad, get sad, wail and rage and cry. Eat some chocolate, drink some wine, or run ten miles and collapse. Watch your favorite shows, indulge yourself for a few days, and then perch yourself at the computer and type onward. Finish the story you started, or start another if you can see it's too flawed. Though, really, it's ONE chapter — how flawed can it be? Rip it apart and start again if need be. Just keep writing. Never give up. And one day, you might be a bestselling, multi-published author too. That's the only way to get there. Never give up.

So which choice is it going to be? It's up to you, though I hope you'll go with option 2. 🙂