Friday, December 7, 2007

Silver Rose Award for Website Excellence

I recently found out I'm a finalist in a website contest sponsored by the Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of the RWA. As you can imagine, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The results will be announced on the 15th. Although I don't expect to take any of the top honors, it's a thrill to be nominated, especially since I designed my website without any outside assistance. It was rough going at first, and it took over a year to get it just as I wanted it, but I believe all the effort was worthwhile.

A Seaside Enchantment: New Review

Although it's been a couple of months since my time-travel short story, A Seaside Enchantment, was published, I recently received some wonderful reviews, which I will be showcasing here on my blog over the next few days. One of the best parts of being an author is receiving reviews; it's encouraging to know people are reading our work and responding to it.

The Long and the Short of It Romance Reviews gave my story a lovely review, which you can access here. Daisy, the reviewer, commented that "Snappy dialogue, intriguing characters, and the thrill of a modern man going back in time to champion a nineteenth-century lady really make the short story shine."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Romance Readers & Publishers Weekly

I was pleasantly pleased to see the cover of Publishers Weekly for the week of November 19, 2007, features the romance genre. In an article entitled "Textually Promiscuous," Sarah J. Robbins discusses the genres and features quotations by readers, editors, bookstore owners, and romance scholars. I especially enjoyed the discussion on the blending of historical and paranormal elements in romances and Rose's quotation on writing was spot on: "“The editors acquired these authors on the quality of the writing and weren't concerned about the genre,” says Rose. “Which just goes to show that good writing wins out.”
You can check out the article here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

All About Romance: Top 100 Romances

The popular romance website, All About Romance, recently published their list of Top 100 Romances, which can be found here. Of course, critics will have a field day, and devoted romance readers will notice that popular authors, such as Jo Beverly, are missing from the list, though classics such as Bronte's Jane Eyre and Austen's Pride & Prejudice are represented. Still, it's useful for considering the novels that we have on our keeper's shelf. What makes a novel a keeper? After reading through the list, I plan to inspect my own shelf and consider what would appear on my list. And, I'd be curious to hear what other readers think about the novels/authors that do appear on the list. I've only read 25 of the books that are listed, and at my own estimate I've read about 400-500 romances in my life. To get you started, I've listed the top 10 books on the AAR list:

Lord of Scoundrels

Loretta Chase

European Historical



Dreaming of You

Lisa Kleypas

European Historical



Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

Classic Fiction




Diana Gabaldon

Time Travel



Flowers From The Storm

Laura Kinsale

European Historical



Slightly Dangerous

Mary Balogh

European Historical



Devil In Winter

Lisa Kleypas

European Historical



Bet Me

Jennifer Crusie




Welcome to Temptation

Jennifer Crusie




The Viscount Who Loved Me

Julia Quinn

European Historical


Monday, November 12, 2007

Victoria Magazine is Back!

When I was a teenager, I eagerly awaited each new issue of Victoria Magazine. Every issue featured beautiful locales, wonderful recipes, and lovely layouts. As you can imagine, I was deeply disappointed when they stopped publishing the magazine, but I recently received the very first issue of the new Victoria Magazine. The magazine features home decor, recipes, collectibles, and more. If you visit the website, you'll find free recipes and tips on decorating your home.

If you're a writer, you may be interested in contributing an article, especially if you have an interest in antiques and history. Writers' guidelines can be found here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Celtic Woman

For my 30th birthday this year, my sister and I attended the Celtic Woman concert, which was incredible. The music was inspiring and beautiful, and I've found it makes an ideal companion to both reading and writing romances. This was a new group to me, so I just had to share because I was very impressed by the show, the singers, and the music. For more information on Celtic Woman, you can visit their website.

I haven't been as consistent in my online presence this month, but I have a good excuse! When I attended the Moonlight & Magnolias conference, I met with an editor who subsequently requested the full manuscript for my historical paranormal novel. So, I've been busy polishing the full manuscript with my critique team and hope to be finished by the end of October. Once that's done, I look forward to rejoining the communities on MySpace, shelfari, and bebo. I miss everyone!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Now Available: A Seaside Enchantment

My new release, "A Seaside Enchantment," is a time-travel romance featuring the Regency era. It's a short story published by The Wild Rose Press and is rated "sweet,"- i.e. no explicit love scenes.

"Of all the seaside cottages in all the villages in all the world, she had to haunt the one I'm renting."

After being seriously wounded in the line of duty, Justin has retreated from the world by renting an isolated cottage along the English coastline. The next thing he knows, he's plunged into a time-travel adventure as he meets the trapped spirit of a lovely nineteenth century lady, Julia.

As Julia explains, she's been awaiting her champion. All he has to do to free her from her entrapment as a spirit is to perform a spell, travel 200 years into the past, find the villain who first worked the spell, and then vanquish the fellow. Easy, right? Justin suspects not, but he's prepared to take on the world, in whatever time period, to fight for his new love.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Look: Sara Freeze Website

Now that my new release, "A Seaside Enchantment," is coming out this week with The Wild Rose Press, I decided to play around with some of the design elements of the website. It's incredible how simply altering the colors and playing with the page header can dramatically alter the look of a website.

In particular, I had a lot of fun adding information and photos to "The Earl's Enchantment" page. If you click here, you'll find an excerpt, reviews, and my inspiration for writing the story. I've shared photos of Holworth and Hay-on-Wye, as well as a special section on who in particular inspired my concept of the earl. When I was cruising around the web checking out various author websites, I especially enjoyed Donna Grant's pages devoted to each of her heroes from her Knights of Legend series. Since I'm also a devoted romance reader, I appreciate when authors give a little extra information on their books; in my opinion, it adds to my enjoyment of the story.

Coming next week: Coverage of the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference

Friday, September 21, 2007

Be a Guest Blogger on the Cata Network

Another writing opportunity: The Cata Network is looking for guest bloggers. Between now and October 15, they are especially looking for blogs on locations you've visited and/or places that have inspired a scene in your book or story. The guidelines are as follows:

How do I become a Guest Blogger?
- First, email Ally and let her know you’re interested. We don’t need a firm commitment, in fact you may only want to write one blog piece per year for us. And that’s great. We appreciate any and all guest blog pieces. We just need to know for scheduling purposes what might be coming down the pipeline.
- Second, register here on the site. It’s free and takes all of 30 seconds. You’ll be listed as a contributor and that means you can add your blog pieces yourself by clicking the Write tab in the administrative section of our site. Our site is like most blog software so if you’re familiar with one, you should have no trouble using ours. (If that’s too technical for ya, just email Ally with your guest blog piece and she’ll post it when she has a minute. )

How do I actually blog?
After registering (super easy) it’s a fairly simple and painless process to post a piece here at CataNetwork Readers’ Lounge. The info we need from you is a catchy headline and the actual blog piece you want to post. See, nothing difficult.
We’ve created a neat little page with a screenshot to show you the administrative side where you’ll be posting. It’s supposed to be Top Secret and stuff, be we can trust you, right? *g* Check that out here.

2007 Brava Novella Contest

Sorry for the late notice- I just heard about the contest through an online discussion board.
It’s back…
The contest that launched several successful publishing careers and brought readers hours of joy is back! Are you ready?
The Rules:
1) The 5th annual Brava Novella Contest will begin accepting entries at midnight central time on August 1, 2007 and will cease accepting entries at midnight central time on September 30, 2007.

2) All entries must be made using the online entry form (which can be accessed by the link below.) No email or snail mail entries will be accepted.

3) Entries will be 750 words (computer count/actual word count) and entrant’s choice of any scene in the novella. Entries over 750 words will be disqualified.

4) This year, for the first time, the contest will have a theme. Entries must be written to the theme of: reunited lovers.

5) All entries will be judged by established Brava authors with the top twenty finalists being judged by Kensington Editorial Director Kate Duffy. As in previous years, there will also be voting by readers with the highest voted entry being named the “Readers’ Choice.”

6) Judging will be held during the month of October with winners announced by November 15, 2007.

7) One entry per person (multiple entries is cause for disqualification.) Open to unpublished authors and those published with houses other than Kensington.
The Reward:
If your 750 word entry is selected as one of the 20 finalists, your entry will be read by Kate Duffy. Take a look at the books in the sidebar and below to see how many previous Novella Contest entrants became Kensington authors because of having their entries read by Kate.
Got Questions?
Visit the message board’s Contest Forum and post them there. The contest will be run through the message board, so get accustomed to it now!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stardust Press

Unfortunate news from a fellow author this morning: Stardust Press is closing at the end of the month. If you visit the Moondancer Drake blog, you'll see the full story. She just recently posted a public letter from the publisher, which reads in part, "After much discussion and negotiation and evaluation, it is with regret that we announce StarDust Press is closing effective September 30, 2007. We are saddened that despite all our efforts, SDP is bleeding, and the investors have decided to cut their losses." One interesting comment, posted by Moondancer Drake at the bottom of the page, notes that epubs need to devote more attention to their marketing efforts. As she says, "I think now creative marketing techniques along with a good solid product is the best shot any of these epubs have to lasting past the start up gate."

If you work in the e-publishing industry as an author, editor, or publisher, I recommend checking out the Absolute Write Water Cooler forums. They offer tons of information for the newbie writing, and even more importantly, the members exchange information on the latest developments in the industry. If you want to check on a publisher before submitting your work, I advise visiting their Bewares and Background Check forum. Obviously, not all e-publishers are crooks, just as all New York publishers aren't legit, but it's always good to do your homework. For instance, when I first heard of The Wild Rose Press during the national RWA conference, I went online and searched for news. In addition, I contacted a few Wild Rose Press authors to hear their comments, and when I learned of nothing but positive responses and glowing reviews, I knew I'd found the right place.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Duchess of Richmond's Ball

The now famous ball took place on June 15, 1815 in Brussels. Readers famliar with Thackeray's Vanity Fair will remember that famous scene. It was during this ball that the Duke of Wellington learned that the French had crossed the border, and the ball was abruptly ended.

Lady de Ros recorded that "When the duke [of Wellington] arrived, rather late, at the ball, I was dancing, but at once went up to him to ask about the rumours. He said very gravely, "Yes, they are true; we are off to-morrow." This terrible news was circulated directly, and while some of the officers hurried away, others remained at the ball, and actually had not time to change their clothes, but fought in evening costume. "

Surprisingly few books have been published on the subject, and Miller clearly did extensive research on his topic. He includes descriptions of the Richmond family and clarifies the location of the ball, a topic that has long been debated. I highly recommend this book for any researcher of the Regency era.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Website Advice for Authors

As I was cruising along in the cyberworld today, I landed on the brilliant article on website design for authors by the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels site. The article is called Authors on the Web, and its offers a wealth of advice for authors who are in the process of building their websites. As the article's author notes, authors need to think long and hard about the "content and style of their websites." She also notes some authors with especially good websites, and I have to say Susan Holloway Scott's site was my favorite. My personal favorites are the websites of Elizabeth Hoyt, Rebecca Kohn, Janet Mullany, Cindy Miles, Kristina Cook, and Marly Mathews. Each of these authors clearly considered their audience and purpose and crafted their sites in a way that appeals to their readers. What are some of your favorite author websites?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Release Date for A Seaside Enchantment: September 26

My editor emailed me today with the release date for "A Seaside Enchantment": September 26th. This is only my second published story, so I'm very excited about having another publication out. As the date approaches, I'll be posting excerpts and a blurb; for now, you can see the cover art for the story.

Also at the end of September, I'll be attending the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference, which is sponsored by the Georgia Romance Writers. The conference will feature special guest Sue Grimshaw, the national romance buyer for Borders Group Inc., and I look forward to hearing her speak about trends in the industry. Roland Haas will also be presenting a CIA workshop, which sounds intriguing, as well as the Maggie Award presentations. In October, therefore, I'll be postings details from the conference; I anticipate there will be much to share.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Teach Me Tonight: Musings on Romance from an Academic Perspective

With romance scholars such as Pamela Regis, Sarah S.G. Frants, Sandra Schwab, An Goris, E.M. Selinger, and Laura Vivanco contributing entries, Teach Me Tonight: Musings on Romance from an Academic Perspective helps romance scholars by providing academic links, romance industry news, critiques, and conference/scholarship updates. Recently, I've been reading Regis's A Natural History of the Romance Novel and am finding it a valuable resource in understanding the evolution of the genre. So, if you're looking for a place to get started with your research or just want to learn more about the industry, you'll benefit from a glance at this website.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Romance Wiki

If you're beginning your research on the romance genre, the Romance Wiki is a good place to start. The Wiki contains a number of resources for researchers of romance, and the dissertation abstract section offers all the latest research being done by up-and-coming scholars.

Of especial interest, at least to me, is the listing of academics who write romance novels. Something I've also wondered about is how so many academics came to write their own romance novels, especially since there is a stigma attached to romance in academia. In September 2007 issue of the Romance Writers Report, Karen Hawkins commented that "I started writing historical romance while working on my Ph.D. in political science in an effort to break up the monotony of reading scholarly, dry books." Eloisa James created a stir a couple of years came when she 'came out' out of the romance closet. In an interview with the New York Magazine, which you can read here, she states, "The main reason I kept [my romance-writing career] separate in the beginning had to do with the sense of shame that American culture deals out to romance, to readers of romance. "

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Romancing the Blog

Yes, I've been a bad blogger lately. Ever since I started my Ph.D. in August, I've been madly reading and researching new topics. In fact, I've recently decided to focus on the 19th century courtship novel and shows how it progresses to the modern romance novel. So, I'll be adding some new content having to do with that area of research, as well as with the Regency era.

To that end, I'll be profiling several websites/blogs that relate to the modern romance novel. First up: Romancing the Blog. From their mission statement: "The columnists on Romancing the Blog are readers, reviewers, aspiring authors, and bestsellers. Some are thoughtful, some humorous, some a bit “ranty,” and some are insightful. They have their own voices and a love of romance. Together, with your comments, they will map the landscape of today’s romance genre from every possible angle. From story conception to the moment a reader finishes the book, they’ll cover it all." They have many influential contributors, including some romance scholars, so it's definitely worth a look. Also, if you have a blog that relates to the romance genre, they'll add you to the list of author blogs. Happy browsing!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Regency Recollections- Captain Gronow

Regency Recollections: Captain Gronow's Guide to Life in London and Paris is a very useful guide for fledgling Regency writers. The editor of the book, Christopher Summerville, has done a great service for fans of Gronow's work by collecting all his Regency-specific writings into one volume. Even if you're not a Regency researcher, Gronow is worth the read if only for his wonderfully gossipy remarks about London luminaries. Below, you'll see some of his wittiest remarks.

On Lord Byron: "Byron hated Palmerston but liked Peel and thought that the whole world ought to be constantly employed in admiring his poetry and himself. He never could write a poem or drmama without making himself its hero,a nd he was always the subject of his own conversation.

On Beau Brummell: "Unluckily, Brummell, soon after joining his regiment, was thrown from a horse at a grand review at Brighton, when he broke his classical Roman nose. This misfortune, however, did not affect the fame of the beau, and although his nasal organ has undergone a slight transformation, it was forgiven by his admirers, since the rest of his person remained intact."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Becoming Jane

Austen scholars haven't been enthusiastic about Becoming Jane, a fictionalized tale of a possible love affair between Jane Austen and Tom LeFroy. Many film critics have also panned the movie, with in the lead, declaring it a "misguided movie [that] imagines Jane Austen's life as a genteel, tasteful Harlequin romance."

The movie is based on Jon Spence's biography Becoming Jane Austen, which I highly recommend. I saw the movie this weekend, and this is my own take on the subject. As a devoted Janeite, I didn't have any high expectations regarding accuracy. What I did expect was a vivid portrayal of the Regency era, and the film certainly did not disappoint in that regard. If you want a detailed and accurate account of Jane Austen's life, I recommend either Spence's book or Carol Shields's Jane Austen. If you want to immerse yourself in a visual representation of the colorful Regency period, Becoming Jane will serve as a witty, well-acted time capsule.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Online Book Trailers

As you can see from my previous post, I've been exploring the world of online book trailers. Lately, when I've been visiting the websites of my favorite authors, I've noticed that they've been featuring brief book trailers. The favored production company for these trailers is Circle of Seven Productions. However, given that the costs range from $250 to over $10,000, I decided to go with a less costly (read: free) version, which you can view below. If you're in the process of making your own book trailer, it helps to check out what other authors have done. If you visit YouTube, and type in "romance novel," a number of examples will pop up. When you're in the YouTube neighborhood, please do stop by and say 'hi'; you can find me at the following YouTube address:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

According to an online message board, Kathleen Woodiwiss passed away on July 6, 2007. She inspired an entire generation of readers and writers and will not be soon forgotten. In a fan forum dedicated to Woodiwiss and her works, her son said the following:
"Hello. I am very sorry to inform you all of the death of my mother Kathleen. She took the death of my brother a bit harder than we thought and the cancer came back with a vengence. She passed away Friday morning at 0630 in Princeton, MN. I just want to thank you all for all of your support and being such great fans. My Mom was amazed at all of the people that supported her. Her final book is done, but not finished. We will be trying to polish it up for her. Her editor at Harper Collins has been a great source of stress for my Mom and the rest of us as well, so I am not sure how that will work out, but we are trying to get the book published as fast as possible. We all want this to be her greatest book ever. Thank you again for all of your support.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Review from Fallen Angel Reviews

More good news this week: I received a glowing review from Marlene at Fallen Angel Reviews. In the review, Marlene states that "I enjoyed The Earl’s Enchantment for a number of reasons, but mostly because Sara Freeze has written memorable characters that are still making me smile!" For the entire review, please visit the Fallen Angel Review site here.

My second bit of happy news is that THE EARL'S ENCHANTMENT is once again on the bestseller lists. It is currently #8 on The Wild Rose Press main page and #9 at The story was released over two months ago, so I'm very pleasantly surprised that readers are still finding it. You may find THE EARL'S ENCHANTMENT by visiting the Wild Rose Press here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Coming Soon: A Seaside Enchantment

More good news- I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for my new story last week. A Seaside Enchantment will be a Miniature Rose (about 30 pages), and it is a time travel romance featuring the Regency era. Currently, the story is still in the editing stage, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new cover; The Wild Rose Press always has beautiful covers!

"Of all the seaside cottages in all the villages in all the world, she had to haunt the one I'm renting." After being seriously wounded in the line of duty, Justin has retreated from the world by renting an isolated cottage along the English coastline. The next thing he knows, he's plunged into a time-travel adventure as he meets the trapped spirit of a lovely nineteenth century lady, Julia.
As Julia explains, she's been awaiting her champion. All he has to do to free her from her entrapment as a spirit is to perform a spell, travel 200 years into the past, find the villain who first worked the spell, and then vanquish the fellow. Easy, right? Justin suspects not, but he's prepared to take on the world, in whatever time period, to fight for his new love.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Review from The Romance Studio

I was thrilled to receive another review for THE EARL'S ENCHANTMENT last week. In the review, Maura Frankman remarks that "the author is equally adept in historical, contemporary and paranormal aspects of this very good romance." For more, please visit The Romance Studio website here.

Historical Romance Club Contest

From the Historical Romance Club:

Historical Romance Club is celebrating it's 4th Anniversary with a HUGE Contest! With over Forty books generously donated by some of your favorite Romance Authors, we are giving away Four GRAND PRIZES. The Diamond Prize Package; The Ruby Prize Package; The Emerald Prize Package; and The Sapphire Prize Package. Each package contains a mix of both eBooks and Print Books.

Prize List:

The Diamond Prize Package:
Faery Special Romances (print and bath salts) by Jaquie Rogers
The Importance of Almack's (ebook) by Denise Patrick
In the Wind's Eye (ebook) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Long Strange Trip (print) by Vicki GaiaMidnight Magic (print - hardcover) by Shari Anton
Midnight Marriage (ebook) by Jean Fullerton
Secrets in the Annex (ebook) by Ann Cory
Summer Wind (ebook) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Tethers (ebook) by Sara Reinke
The Tribute (ebook) by Beth Williamson
Twilight's Kiss (print) by Marly Mathews
The Ruby Prize Package:
The Accidental Countess (ebook) by Melissa Schroeder
A Knight of Passion (ebook) by Ingela F. Hyatt
Allegra's Seduction (ebook) by Monica M. Martin
Always, My Love (ebook) by Phyllis Campbell
An Unexpected Engagement (print) by Sara Reinke
The Cheiftain's Bride (ebook) by Kate Hill
I'll Be Yours (ebook) by Marly Mathews
The Irish Countess (print) by Janet Quinn
The Mad Knight's Bride (print) by Kate Hill
Melting Iron (print) by Ann Cory
Sword of Rhoswen (ebook) by Brenda Williamson

The Emerald Prize Package:
A Dark Guardian (ebook) by Donna Grant
A Knight of Passion (print) by Ingela F. Hyatt
Come The Night (print) by Angelique Armae
Crossing the Line (print) by Catherine Stang
Dance of Desire (print) by Catherine Kean
My Lady's Protector: Knight of Pentacles (ebook) by Monica M. Martin
Prisoners of the Wind (ebook) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Twilight's Kiss (ebook) by Marly Mathews
Under a Warlock's Spell (ebook) by Ann Cory
Vows Of Deception (ebook) by Phyllis Campbell
The WyndMaster's Lady (ebook) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

The Sapphire Prize Package:
Book of Days (ebook) by Sara Reinke
Cradle the Light (ebook) by Vicki Gaia
Cutlasses and Caresses (ebook) by Jean Fullerton
Dead Walkers The Protectorate (ebook) by Angelique Armae
The Earl's Enchantment (ebook) by Sara Freeze
Holding Out For A Hero (ebook) by Phyllis Campbell
In Sunshine or In Shadow (print) by Cynthia Owens
The Kilted Governess (ebook) by Janet Quinn
The Passenger (print) by Joie LesinSilk and Magic 2 (print) by M.A. duBarry
WindFall (print) by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

How to Enter:Simply visit HRC ( and click on the Contest Logo at the top of the Romance News on the index page. Be sure to read through the Contest Rules before filling out the entry form...And remember, you must be 18 or older to enter. ;) Contest Closes:July 31, 2007 at 9:00pm EDT, so hurry and enter today!

And while you're visiting HRC, check out our extensive list of HRC Authors, Reviews, and Interviews

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CK2S Kwips and Kritiques Review

THE EARL'S ENCHANTMENT received a wonderful review by Joyce at CK2S Kwips and Kritiques. In the review, Joyce comments that "THE EARL’S ENCHANTMENT is well written and well thought out. Sara Freeze is one of the names I will be reading again soon." To read the rest of the review, please visit CK2S Kwips and Kritiques.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Review from Romantic Observer/Realms of Love

"The Earl's Enchantment" received a lovely review from Realms of Love and Romantic Observer, which is its sister site. In fact, on the rating system, it received a 4/5, a happy rating for a short story. The reviewer, Scarlet, remarked that "Sara Freeze’s glimpse into the life of an honorable, imprisoned ghost is a tiny nugget of delight."

Monday, June 4, 2007

Authors As Book Reviewers

As I said in some previous posts, I'm busily engaged in my reading/writing program for the summer. I'm finding that as I become a better reader, I also become a better writer. Therefore, I'm constantly on the lookout for new books to add to the program. To aid that effort, I joined a new trend among authors: Becoming a book reviewer at an online review site. In my case, I'm interested in writing paranormal romances, so I signed on to the Paranormal Romance Review website.
So far, I've really enjoyed the experience of carefully reading, summarizing, and analyzing books. I now actively look for aspects of characterization, plot, and setting both when I read and when I write. However, authors who also serve as reviewers need to be diplomatic in their roles. My policy is if I don't have anything nice to say, I don't say anything at all. Thus far, I've enjoyed every book I've read. If there was ever a case where I was unable to comment kindly on a fellow author's work, I feel the best response would be to allow the review coordinator to find another reviewer.
To read my very first review and check out my reviewer space, please visit the PNR website at

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Character vs. Concept

As part of my reading/writing program, I've been reading a number of paranormal romance novels published within the last 10 years. And, I've gleaned an important lesson from all this reading: Never sacrifice characterization to a glitzy concept. The best paranormal romances have strong characters with clearly defined goals and motivation, which then give rise to the conflict. In weaker paranormal romances, the characters seem like cardboard cutouts that are present simply to serve as props for the paranormal element(s).

Recently, I picked up a paranormal romance by a popular author because I was attracted by the concept of the book. When I finished the book, though, I felt that I really understood the world the author had created; however, I never fully understood the characters, which meant I couldn't buy into the conflict that was established between them. Still, the lesson above was reinforced: When I read romances, the characters have to be well-developed so that the conflict between/within the characters sustain the plot and keep me reading. I actually care about the characters and what's going to happen to them. If the author is too focused on some other element other than characterization, the novel's pacing suffers. Although I think witches, mythological creatures, and magic are very interesting in and of themselves, they aren't enough to keep me immersed in the book.

Having said all that, I don't always remember my own advice. So, I posted a little sticky note on my computer with the words, "It's the characters, stupid!" I hope it helps!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Book Burning as Protest

For all my fellow bibliophiles out there, you may be interested in the article on Yahoo called "Mo. man burns books as act of protest." Last month, I posted information about the NEA's study that found the percentage of people who read for pleasure is declining greatly. Tom Wayne, the subject of the Yahoo article, is the owner of a used bookstore. Recently, when he tried to thin out his collection, he was discouraged by how difficult it was to get rid of the books, even when he offered them for free; therefore, he "began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word." Like Mr. Wayne, I've also been discouraged by the decreasing numbers of readers, though I'm not sure I would go as far as to burn books. Then again, perhaps radical acts such as Mr. Wayne's will center attention on this persistent problem in today's society.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Check out my Slide Show!

I tried something new recently with the creation of a slide show. Online promotion is still a very new venture for me, so I'm testing out different ideas.
An intriguing idea, to turn my book cover into a movie poster, came from Dorothy Thompson's blog "How to Promote Your Self-Published eBook (or Print!) ." She recommends the following website to craft your poster:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Author of the Week at Candice Gilmer's blog

Candice Gilmer was kind enough to feature me as Author of the Week over at her blog, Inside an Author's Mind.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reading and Writing Program

Since The Earl's Enchantment was published in April, I've been encouraged by its success and have returned to seriously working on my novel. Since May 3rd, I've written over 9000 words, and I'm finding the writing is much easier now that I'm on my new reading and writing program. When I read Stephen King's book On Writing, he mentioned that writers should establish a reading and writing program-- "four to six hours a day, every day." He also mentioned Anthony Trollope (image below), who would write for 2.5 hours every morning before work. When I was a freshman, my British literature professor mentioned Trollope and his work ethic, hoping to guilt all of us into more consistent work habits. The lesson didn't sink in when I was 18, but it certainly is sinking in now that I'm trying to complete a novel. My own program is conservative in comparison to Trollope and King's; I read for 1 hour each day and write at least 500 words per day. On some days, when the Muse is smiling, I've been able to write over 900 words. Occasionally, I fail to meet these goals and give myself a guilt trip, but for the most part, it's a very useful program for a beginning writer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Musings on Genre

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about the romance genre and how writers chose their particular subgenres. When I first began writing, I worked on a novel that was a straight historical set in the Regency era. However, I just wasn't happy with the plot, though I liked the plot and the characters. So, I took a break from the novel and completed a short story. To my surprise, that story ended up being a time-travel novel that was set in the Regency era. As I revisited my novel, began to wonder if I could mix paranormal elements with a historical setting. I hadn't heard of the historical-paranormal subgenre before; hence the research machine kicked in, and I discovered authors such as Eve Silver, Jeanne Savery, and Julie Beard (My Fair Lord).

I've found that researching the subgenre I want to write in is immensely helpful. And, it's encouraging to know that other writers are writing and publishing the same types of books that I love to read and write. Since I'm as much a reader as I am a writer, and I believe most writers are like this, it only makes sense to thoroughly investigate my target market as I craft my novel.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

A rose for all the mothers out there. As my fellow writers know, writing can be an isolating experience, and it's easy to forget the people who are encouraging us in our journey. I know my own mother has cheered me along every step of the way, whether it's reading my latest chapter or traveling to the RWA Conference with me.

Monday, April 30, 2007

New Review for "The Earl's Enchantment" from Love Bites Romance Reviews

I received a wonderful review by Kelly Wallace at Love Bites Romance Reviews! It's the very first review I've ever received, and I'm so grateful to Kelly and the Love Bites review site for checking out my story.

The first two lines of the review are:
"Sara Freeze has taken a traditional phantom-love story and added some interesting twists that all make sense in the end. The Earl's Enchantment was a short, fun story that kept me intrigued straight through."
Kelly, Love Bites Romance Reviews

To read the full review, please follow this link for Love Bites Romance Reviews.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Release and Contest News

To celebrate the release of my first publication, "The Earl's Enchantment," I'll be running a contest between now and May 26th. "The Earl's Enchantment," available now at The Wild Rose Press, is a time travel romance featuring the Regency era. Since the heroine, Caitlin, is an avid reader, as well as a bookseller, I'll be offering a $10 gift card to Borders. In addition, Caitlin and the story's hero, Adrian, have a spirited debate over Jane Austen's standing as an author. Therefore, for all you Jane Austen lovers out there, I'm also offering a Jane Austen action figure to watch over you and inspire you as you read (you can view it below). Last but not least, the winner will receive a free copy of "The Earl's Enchantment."

All you have to do to enter is sign up for my newsletter by May 26th. Please note: If you're already subscribed to my newsletter, you're automatically entered into the contest.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Release Date and Excerpt for "The Earl's Enchantment"

"The Earl's Enchantment" will be released at The Wild Rose Press this Friday (April 27)! It's a time travel romance that features the Regency era, and on Friday, I will be posting details for a contest to celebrate my very first publication!

Adrian Knighton, Earl of Holworth, hated the twenty first century. Adding to his ire, as a ghost trapped within his own castle, he had limited options regarding his current domain. He glared at the latest inhabitant who’d entered the Holworth Castle…well…Bookshop. Adrian snorted. A bookshop b’God. That the venerable Holworth Castle, which had protected the Dorset countryside for centuries, was now a receptacle for lurid novels and dusty tomes vexed him to no end. Peasants of any kind could simply wander in whenever they wanted, which they did with alarming frequency.

Take this latest peasant, for instance. Back in his day, Adrian thought indignantly, a man dressed in such dishabille would have been expelled from the Holworth keep on his arse. A torn shirt, filthy shoes, and his hair…Adrian had once seen a book on mammals in North America, and for the life of him, he couldn’t understand why an Englishman would want his hair to stick up like a porcupine.

It was simply unbearable and entirely unacceptable…except for her."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Tragedy

Like many other Americans, I was stunned to hear the news about the Virginia Tech shootings. It's difficult to comprehend that such a tragedy could occur on a university campus, and I know it will be many months before we can make sense of such a senseless act of violence.

I wish I had some words of wisdom to share, but all I can say is my thoughts and prayers go out to the students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech.
Frodo: "I wish none of this had happened."
Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Promotional Tips for Authors

So, you have your contract in hand and a release date set with your publisher. Now comes the scary stuff: Promotion. When you're first starting out and money is tight, it helps to focus on establishing an Internet presence. All the sites I've listed below are free, and they're ideal for the new author keen on jumping into the marketing and promotion game.

1. MySpace: The ultimate networking tool. Numerous authors have joined MySpace over the past few years, and by doing a simple search, you can find some of your favorite authors and begin making new friends. Also, by joining romance friendly groups, you can find people with similar interests and perhaps even potential readers.

2. AuthorsDen: "Where authors and readers come together." You can upload your bio, add news and stories, and include links to your other sites.

3. Bebo: A cool new site I recently found out about. Again, it's a wonderful networking tool, and it allows authors to register their books on the site.

4. Blog: Blogger is a user-friendly way to set up a blog, and I've also heard positive remarks about Wordpress and Livejournal. The only downside to blogging is you have to be willing to invest some time into posts; ideally, you should post new material about 2-3 times per week.
Happy writing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Romance Fun at The Colbert Report

At the end of March, The Colbert Report had a hilarious spoof on the romance cover model search being conducted by Harlequin. I just caught the show on Tivo and thought I'd share some of the images for fun. The covers of actual romances that he showed were really from Avon, and both eHarlequin and the Avon Romance Blog seemed entertained by Colbert's take on the romance community. You can check out the video clip at the Comedy Central web site.