Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writer Beware: Seven “Danger Zones” Of A Literary Agent Contract from Writer's Relief

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

It’s happened—a literary agency contract! Some writers who are offered an agreement from a literary agencysimply sign on the dotted line without fully understanding what’s at stake. Maybe they have an implicit trust in their future literary agency. Or maybe they’re so excited and overcome by emotion, they’re not thinking clearly.

But before you sign a contract with a literary agent, here are few potential trouble spots you need to watch out for.

Writer Beware: Seven “Danger Zones” Of A Literary Agent Contract

1. Representation: What exactly will your literary agent represent? Some literary agents will demand the right to represent absolutely everything that you write, from shopping lists to epic novels. Other literary agents will ask to represent one particular genre of book (such as “full-length science-fiction novels”). Whatever the case, make sure you understand exactly what your agent is asking to represent.
2. Termination: Is the termination clause clear and pro-writer? The termination clause should protect you: You should not have to “show cause” if you want to sever your relationship with your agent. Be certain that you understand the process for terminating your agreement before you sign.
3. Up-front fees: What will you be asked to pay for? Watch for red flags. If a literary agent wants to charge you a “signing fee” or asks for a sum of money up front to cover the cost of postage and phone calls—don’t sign anything until you’ve done more research about the agent in question. Talk to other writers. Look online to see if the agent has brokered any significant book deals in the last few months. Good literary agents do not charge signing fees, reading fees, or editorial fees. Bad literary agents do.
4. Commission: Are the rates crystal clear? Do you understand what percentage of sales your agent will claim as commission? Keep in mind that if you do sell your book, you might also sell subsidiary rights (like the right to adapt your book into a movie). Be sure that you understand what kind of commission your literary agent will take and what kind of commission any partner agencies may claim.
5. Payment: How soon will you receive your money? Most literary agencies act as trustees for their clients. Instead of paying you directly, a publisher will pay your literary agent—who will then cut you a check (minus commission). Your literary agent contract should state how quickly you can expect your money after your literary agency has received it.
6. Accounting: Will you receive all the necessary reports and forms? Your literary agent should send you the proper tax forms every year and should also, upon request, provide you with a list of expenses incurred on your behalf (especially if they are charging you for things like postage and phone calls).
7. Time frame: Is the agent asking for perpetual representation? Some literary agents will ask for the right to permanently represent a book—as opposed to asking for the right to represent it only for the duration of your publishing contract or your partnership with the agency. Do not grant a right of perpetual representation.
Your literary agent should be your advocate. If negotiating a contract with your literary agent feels uncomfortable or if you get the sense that your agent is not communicating with you accurately and fairly, it may be time to heed the warning signs and head in a different direction.
Remember: Don’t be afraid of negotiating or asking questions about your literary agency contract. You’ll thank yourself later!
Also want to add a comment from author Kim Headlee that is worth consideration as well~Patricia

The other aspect is: does the agent run "author coach" and/or publishing side business? My now ex-agent started doing both of those things about 10 years after he had signed me as a client, and in retrospect, that became the beginning of the end of our business relationship. It got to where he was more interested in getting existing clients to sign up for his publishing contracts, because that represented more income for him regardless of whether it was helping the client any (in most cases, it wasn't). He & I parted ways over this sort point, and I've done independent publishing ever since.

Monday, February 16, 2015

To Save A Lady: Elise's Favorite: Creole Pecan Praline #Recipe & Book Sale!

My heroine, Elise, in To Save a Lady, loves pralines. From Paris, she is a stranger to the French Quarter and life has not been easy since her arrival in Louisiana. During her stay in the city, she develops a love for pralines. 

Pralines were originally made in France with almonds, but due to a shortage of almonds in Louisiana, pecans were substituted. Early pralines were also made using molasses and cream along with sugar and pecans.   

Also here is a copy of a recipe for pralines made with molasses from


2 lbs. cane sugar
1 lb. shelled pecans
3 tbsp. molasses
1 oz. pure vanilla
1 c. water
1 candy thermometer
Wax paper
Lg. spoon
Table knife

Put sugar, water, molasses in 6 quart saucepan, stir on high heat, bring to boil and cook until 240 degrees (soft ball). Shut heat, put in pecans and vanilla. IMPORTANT: Rub some of liquid on inside pan until creamy, about 1 minutes. Do this 3 times and scrape back into liquid with knife. You are ready to pour.Put wax paper about 3 feet long (2) over newspaper on table. Dip out silver dollar size pralines until empty. Makes about 4 dozen. Let cool and peel from wax paper.

In To Save a Lady,  the hero, Jesse, buys some to tempt Elise into having dinner with him.

Here's an excerpt of the scene beginning with Elise:

"My duty as a messenger has ended. The gentleman I represent is unwilling to take further risk.”
“Good,” Jesse said. As far as he was concerned, it had never been necessary to put a woman at risk. He set aside his glass and told her about Agent Peter Banes. “He was after you, and I apologize that I almost failed you.”
“That is unnecessary. You did not fail me or your country.” The breeze whipped the hood of the cloak against her face. “I will keep you in my prayers, and I hope your army is victorious.”
He wished he knew of some charming remark to say that would bring her rushing across the threshold and into his arms. But he had never been good at that sort of thing. Not like Bonnard. He hadn’t been born with an innate charm.
“I’d like for you to stay and join me for dinner.” Either straightforward worked or it didn’t. “The wine is very good, and the bread is fresh. I also have your favorite. Pralines.”
“Oh! Pralines,” she gasped with delight. “In that case, I must stay.”
She flew across the threshold, and his jaw dropped.
“I certainly can’t eat all this myself.” He snatched the linen covering off the dish and revealed four confections that carried the rich scent of pecans and molasses. Now, all he had to do was figure out how to become as irresistible as a praline.
“And I brought some fruit.” He uncovered an apple and grapes. “A German merchant had smoked venison. He let me taste a sample and it is delicious. I have plenty of butter for the bread.”
She let out a long sigh of delight. All he could see within the confines of her deep hood was the sparkle of the mask she wore. She touched the white tablecloth. “This is so thoughtful of you.”
“Shall we try the bread?” He reached for the knife, his heart slamming against his chest.

You can get a copy of To Save a Lady on sale for 99 cents from 2/16-2/20/15

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Join the Fun, #Free Books, & Giveaways on Rae Renzi's FB party!

Has the winter storm got you trapped inside? Looking for something to do? Join the Facebook party for Rae Renzi's new release: Dearly Departed Dating Service!

There's a host of authors participating. Including me! Everyone has goodies to give away and the party starts at 10 am CST and goes to 10 pm. So you can drop by any time!

I will be there from 1 pm to 1:30 doing my thing and having a nervous breakdown trying to reload every 5 seconds. Anybody whose done one of these things knows what I mean!

Leave a comment on my post to be entered in my contest. I will be giving away a pretty little fleur de lis charm as a grand prize and a free copy of my historical romance, To Save a Lady, to three winners.

Here's the link: You can go there now and join. Plus we're posting what we're going to wear to the party among other things like men...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy #Valentine’sDay! My Gift to You: Free Short Story

Happy Valentine's Day! The one day devoted to romance is here and I'm wishing you a wonderful romantic day. Of course, Valentine's Day can be about any kind of love. The love between parents and children, owners and pets, and good friends. It can be a day to celebrate what caring for other people and the world really means. A day to reach out and let your friends and family know they are a special part of your life. Send out a few texts or email cards. It won't take but a minute to brighten someone's Valentine's Day. 

You can even send them a free copy of my short story, "Delivering Love Today" and grab a copy for yourself. It's a quick read of about 15-20 minutes. 

Behind the wheel of a florist van, Kelly is making Valentine deliveries when a handsome cowboy disrupts her schedule. Will he become her Valentine? 

Free this weekend on Amazon. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Embracing Love: A #Valentine's Day Post & Contest by Guest Author Sydney Jane Baily

The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.
--Victor Hugo

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I pondered this statement and decided I disagree with the esteemed Mr. Hugo. As an historical romance novelist, I ponder love and emotions a great deal, as do my fellow romance writers. We are steeped in the feelings of our characters from the moment we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, as we seek to create authentic, three-dimensional heroes and heroines, who will captivate our readers and with whom readers can identify.

I don’t believe I’ve fashioned any of my characters to gain supreme happiness in discovering they are loved. Sometimes, realizing that one is loved is a relief and a blessing, but it can also be a curse. Sometimes, it causes sacrifice and heartache.

However, I think my heroes and heroines, as most of us in real life, find a measure of supreme happiness from loving more than from being loved.

Another quote, this time from Goethe strikes me as essentially true:

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
--Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

When you love, you are defined by that love. Whether you have taken decades before loving yourself, perhaps after dealing with poor self-esteem issues, or have fallen in and out of passionate love with multiple people from various walks of life, who have in common only that they touched your heart in a special way, or have found one soul-shaking connection with another human being who seems put on this earth for you to love—each time you love, it shapes you, irrevocably.

And often the feeling of loving is sheer joy, similar to the exquisite delight of giving precisely the right gift to someone, a joy that far outweighs receiving a gift, no matter how perfect.

This Valentine’s Day embrace what/whom you love, figuratively and in reality. Think about how your love shapes and fashions you (be it a love for chocolate, a furry friend, your significant other, all of humankind, or even family and friends), and enjoy some supreme happiness, a warm, steady light in the deep dark of winter.

Sydney Jane Baily is the author of the Defiant Hearts series of 1880s American Victorian romance, with excerpts and purchase links here:

The first book in her series is An Improper Situation.

Summary: With her chestnut hair and striking green eyes, Charlotte should be the catch of Spring City, CO. But she wears her independence like armor, cloaking herself behind her male nom de plume. A 24-year-old confirmed spinster, she won’t risk heartbreak; that is, until a handsome stranger arrives.

Boston lawyer Reed Malloy has a mission—deliver two orphaned children to their Colorado cousin. He's not prepared for Charlotte being utterly beguiling, or for her flat-out refusal to raise her kin. It will take some firsthand persuasion to complete his legal duty and resolve more tantalizing issues.

When Charlotte forsakes everything familiar and is welcomed into the high society of the Boston Brahmins, sinister forces and scorned women emerge. With passions ablaze, Reed and Charlotte find themselves in a very Improper Situation.

Author bio:

Sydney Jane Baily completed her first novel at the tender age of 17. Thankfully, that manuscript currently resides in an undisclosed, secure location. She went on to get B.A. degrees in English literature and in history, and an M.A. in literature with a concentration in Romanticism.

During her career while continuing to write stories, she has been an editor, cat snuggler, mother of two, and a dog’s best friend, among other things literary and not.

In writing her historical romances, she believes in happily-ever-after stories for an already challenging world. Born and raised in California, she now resides in New England with her family—human, feline, and canine. Sydney welcomes email at

See comments for contest info! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

In 1902: What a Woman of 45 Ought to Know (Self & Sex Series)

This charming little book was published in London in 1902. I have owned it for probably twenty years. I don't really know how long. I found it in a box of books in a barn at a country homestead. The owner was having a sale and I think I may have paid a dollar for it if that much. I bought it to add to my collection of reference books. It is a look into a different time and society written by Emma Drake, MD, who also wrote "What A Young Wife Ought To Know". Dr. Drake appears to be the Dr. Phil of her time. It is books like this that give you a glimpse into another time and how historical characters would have thought and felt about everyday life.
There are pages of commendations for the book written by many prominent people in 1902 including Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Women who were forty-five and older were considered "old" in 1902. Drake advises them on life during and after menopause when they are no longer able to produce and raise children, which has been the major role of their life. Some of it is very amusing compared to how we think and act now. Such as: "The Creator fitted you for child-bearing and when this period has run its allotted course, He reconstructs your physical nature for another line of work. In doing this you pass simply and easily, from the reproductive or child-bearing period into one of sexual inactivity."

Yet the author encourages women to assume new activities and seek happiness during this period in their lives rather than giving up. And there are truths that remain so today. Drake states: "Mothers are as a rule too unselfish...they too often unconsciously instill...the thought that mother can do everything best and is always read and willing and so comes the too frequent result: Let Mama do it."

Some funny instructions that could find it way into dialogue between characters:

On no account dye the hair for it cannot be concealed and you will deceive no one.
Rub table salt twice a week on the scalp for dandruff.
Drinking tea in immoderate amounts overstimulates the nervous system and produces constipation.
In Ireland, reports state that tea as prepared and drunk by the peasants is a strong contributing factor to insanity.

Finally, some wonderful rules about living from "a well-preserved old lady" that Dr. Drake included,which are applicable today:

Don't worry and don't hurry
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Don't overeat. Don't starve. Let your moderation be known to all men.
Court the fresh air night and day
Sleep and rest abundantly. Sleep is nature's benediction
Be cheerful. A light heart lives long
Think only healthful thoughts.
Seek peace and pursue it
Don't carry the whole world on your shoulders.

And, my favorite from 1902:
Never despair. Lost hope is a fatal disease.

Wishing everyone a happy Valentine's week! If you're looking for a short, fun Valentine's Day story, check out "Delivering Love Today."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lazy Home Cooking: Chocolate Pie Recipe

Mom's Old Chocolate Pie Recipe

Buy a pie crust and bake it first.

You mix together:  4 tablespoons self-rising flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup sugar (Note: I would add about half a cup first and taste mix to see if it is sweet enough. You can always add more sugar when you are cooking the pie mix until you like the taste.)
Separate 3 eggs.  Mix the egg yolks with 1 ½ cups of milk and tsp of vanilla.
Add to the dry ingredients, add a dash of salt.  Cook in saucepan on low/med heat until thick, stirring constantly. If it doesn't thicken up, you can add a little extra flour. Add 2 tsp of butter and stir until melted. 
Pour into baked pie crust.   Then make meringue using the three egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Use mixer on high to beat egg whites until fluffy, add sugar, and continue mixing until peaks are formed.  
Spread meringue on top of pie and bake at 350 until lightly browned. Cool, cut and serve.