The Lure of the Great Alpha Male

The Lure of the Great Alpha Male

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

We all want him.  Not just any alpha male.  
We all want the Great Alpha Male.

The Alpha Male…

An alpha doesn’t walk into a room.  He commands it.  Without effort, he could defeat every male there.  The intangible vibe pouring off those broad shoulders announces the danger louder than a bull horn.  Every other wise man in the room heeds the warning.

Every single woman responds to the dominant presence.  Instinctually.

Something primal takes over.

Our hair gets fluffed without thought.

Perfectly glossed lips get licked.

Shirts are pulled down lower, chests stuck out further, hips swayed another degree right and left in an unconscious effort to gain the spectacular male’s notice.

The mating dance has begun. 
He surveys the group of potential females. 

Each woman hopes for a chance to be the one…
The female above all others that he has chosen.

We’ve already chosen him, even if our stubborn mind puts up a valiant fight.  Our body overrides reason.  We are biologically programmed to choose virility.  We seek protection from the one most able to provide. 

Sound animalistic? {smiles slowly}
Oh, yes.  Most definitely.

A glance comes our way… devastating.

The voice… deep and soul-penetrating.

Those eyes… demanding.

Our breath quickens. 

Our pulse races.

We swallow hard, our throat suddenly Sahara dry.

Logic steps in, creating a tug-of-war with our bodies and minds.  We shake our heads, clearing lustful thoughts.  Will-power soon falters, our gaze traveling back to the object of desire.

Every action is geared toward the heart-pounding hunt.  It’s one thing to find him.  Quite another to ensnare the specimen alpha male.

The alpha male, may dally with many females, but chooses only one as his mate.  Someone worthy of everything he has to offer.  A powerful woman… is his counterpart.

When the two meet, it is in every way, a collision.
The dance continues, and, yet, has only just begun.

Fighting. 

Resisting. 

Overpowering. 

Submitting.

No matter the strength of his female…
the alpha male must overpower her to have her. 

By choosing him, she agrees to be owned by him…
whether she realizes it or not.

The Great Alpha Male…

If we’re lucky, we haven’t found just any alpha male.
The rare few capture the Great Alpha Male. 
The one that is innately alpha… and so much more.

When the larger than life man falls to his knees…

When the man who can conquer legions yields to a woman…

When he rips his chest wide open, handing her his very heart…

That incredibly lucky woman has found…

… the Great Alpha Male.

Romance is filled with larger than life Great Alpha Males. 
The Highlands are filled with them… in reality and our fictional worlds. 
Hence, my unending love for Highlanders. 

Who is my favorite Great Alpha Male?
So far, it would have to be Jericho Barrons. 
He may not be a Highlander, but damn, what a Great Alpha Male.
And… he was part Pict, after all.

Who is your favorite Great Alpha Male?

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Why Writing Contests Matter

Why Writing Contests Matter

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

For those of you following me here on my blog or on Twitter, you likely heard the news on Saturday as I vibrated in excitement.  I’d become a finalist in the Lone Star Writing Contest. {vibrates}

Or perhaps, you’d heard the additional exciting news yesterday.  I’d become a finalist in The Catherine Writing Contest. {vibrates more}

So what’s all the hoopla about contests anyway?

Well, I can tell you one thing for certain.  I would not be here writing this blog were it not for the contests that I entered when I finally had a piece I thought was worthy.

It turns out I did… and didn’t.

My entry didn’t final in that contest.  Nor in the several that came after that.  What I did get was invaluable.  It was the first qualified feedback I’d ever received on my writing.  One of those very first judges took such great time and care in pointing out every flaw in great detail.  She also commended me on my strengths.  I am forever thankful for both.

What did I do?

I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.  Made changes.  Listened.  Learned.  Improved.

The First and Best Reason To Enter Writing Contests:  Feedback

Since that first contest back in the fall of 2010, I’ve been working on a new manuscript that has my creativity flowing.  With my new gem, I entered about eight more contests in the fall of 2011, and I’ve entered seven so far this fall… and counting. 

Last year, those first few contests helped me see what was completely unnecessary in the story (several judges told me to ditch the first page altogether), what the story didn’t have that it very much needed, and where I shined naturally as a writer.

I analyzed every single comment.  Of course, I disregarded the ones I felt had been generated by a lack of caffeine, but I took to heart the feedback that had very good points I either hadn’t considered or lacked the skills and experience to know.

   Some Rules on Contest Feedback:

  • There are no rules for you on feedback. 
  • Everything is subjective.
  • Judges volunteer their time.  Take the time to listen.
  • Comments are suggestions to use if you want.  It’s your story.
  • If multiple judges make the same comment, they may have a point.
  • Judge qualifications vary from trained and unpublished to authors.
  • Read the contest score areas.  Is your entry well-suited for them?
  • Scores are a quantitive way to rank something difficult to judge.

Don’t let negative comments get you down.  Use them to your advantage.  Almost every comment I’ve received has been constructive.  To me, that feedback is worth every penny I paid to enter.

Keep in mind that why you did not score well, may have absolutely nothing to do with your writing talent.  Your judge may not like your writing style, may not connect to your voice, or may have given a valiant effort to judge your piece, but really aren’t familiar with your subgenre.

My area, paranormal romance, is particularly challenging with judges.  In paranormal romance there are vampires, shape-shifters, witches, magick, ghosts, mediums, time-travel, and fantasy.  That is a very broad spectrum.  Mine is a time-travel that has Highlanders and magick.  I may get a judge used to reading vampires.  Even with my recent finalist feedback, one judge commented she doesn’t normally read time-travel.  Another indicated she stumbled a bit on the Scottish brogue.

Bottom line?  Comments and feedback are so valuable to us as fledgling writers.  Use them in the best way possible; to learn and grow as a writer.

Contests As Mini-Reviews

It occurred to me this week, that contests are excellent training for the reviews we will receive as published authors.

Not everyone will relay comments in a constructive fashion.  Many may not relate to our work.  Some will think what you wrote has been done before.  {whispers} Even if you are certain it has not…

What do I focus on?

The rave reviews.  The praise.  The gushing.  Words like, stunning, spectacular, fabulous, and powerful.

Do I ignore all of the not so stellar comments?  No way.  I simply look at them, decide if they have merit or not, and apply them or discard them and move on.

It’s the positive that keeps me energized.  I use every single bit of praise to fuel the motivational fire that keeps me writing. 

Those supportive comments?  They will come from my supportive fans someday.

The Big Payoff

If you’ve honed your craft well enough, if your entry is well suited to the contest you’ve entered, and if the planets have actually aligned for you, a phone call (or occassionally an email) will come with the phrase, “Congratulations!  You’re a finalist.”

Now we’re at the endgame.  We have hit the main reason contests are so beneficial for us as a writer.

Your entry will now be read by acquiring agents or editors.  If you’re lucky…both.

The interesting thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to win a contest to get a request for a submission.  Some final judges have such quality entries to judge, they may grant a win to one entry, but request a submission from both.  Last year I won two contests and was a finalist in a third.  Of the three, I received one request for my full manuscript from an editor at one of the big six publishing houses. 

What do I tell myself?  It takes only one.

Many contests post the results in the RWR (Romance Writers Report), list the results on their websites, and announce the contest news on their email loops.

Fame, baby!

What To Look For When Entering Contests

One of the first things I look for when entering contests is the final judges.  Are they an agent or editor that I would be interested in submitting to if they request my final manuscript?

I also look at the rules of the contest.  My entry is seen in its best light if it’s the first three chapters, but not all contests are designed the same. 

Some contests judge the first 7,000 words, which takes me through half of my third chapter.  Some ask for the first 25 pages or 30 pages.  Some are 50 pages.

Most contests ask for the first part of the story, beginning at page one.  One I’ve seen asks for only page one. 

Other interesting contests, like Reveal Your Inner Vixen, ask for up to twenty pages of the part of your manuscript that best outlines sexual tension.  {smirks} … Now we’re talking…

   Absolute Musts Before Entering A Contest

  • Read the contest’s entry rules.
  • Read the contest’s formatting rules.
  • Follow above said rules exactly if you don’t want to waste your time by being disqualified.
  • Print off all the rules and check them off as you go to make sure you don’t miss one.
  • Mark your calendar to be sure you make the entry deadline.

My suggestion?  Enter the contest early if you can.  I usually enter them a week or more before their entry deadline.  Why?  Sometimes I’ve had questions, and it takes a day or two to get an answer.  Most entrants enter at the last minute, myself included, and technical difficulties can, and do, occur.

What Happens After You Hear The Results?

If you hear that coveted “Congratulations! You’re a finalist!” you often have a week to revise your entry based on the feedback you’ve received.  Then, you re-submit.  You wait.  You hope your entry is the one that judge has been waiting their entire career to find.

If you hear back you didn’t final, print off those score sheets and comments.  See what areas you need to work on.  Make that entry shine for the next time.

Either way.  One very important thing to do as soon as you can? 

Write Thank You Notes!

Write thank you notes to both the judges and the contest coordinator.  Again, they’ve volunteered their time in their very busy lives and writing careers to help you with yours.  Show them your appreciation for doing so, even if they didn’t rave about your entry.  They may be buying your book off the shelf later and smiling in remembrance.

If you final, be sure to triple-check what you do next.  As I mentioned, some allow you to revise the entry.  Others require you to add a synopsis to the entry that may have been optional in the first round. 

Ask when you’re allowed to share the news on social media.  Last Friday, I was asked to wait until the following day.  On Monday, I was asked to wait two days, until Wednesday.

When you can share the news?  Shout it from the rooftops!  You’ve worked hard to make it this far.  To be a  finalist in a writing contest means you’ve risen to the top of a very competitive area and it’s an accomplishment to be proud of and share.  Those who have been supporting you and cheering for you along the way will want to share in your success.

Am I still entering contests?

Absolutely.  I am always learning and growing.  The feedback is unmatchable.  When you final or win, the accomplishment feels amazing.  {vibrates just thinking about it}

I truly hope you enter your writing in contests that suit your work.  Let me know how it goes! 

Meanwhile, I have to go.  I’ve an entry to revise for re-submission and thank you notes to write… ;)

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and good luck in your contest submissions!

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Contest News ~ I’m a Finalist in the Lone Star!

Contest News ~ I’m a Finalist in the Lone Star!

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

 
Wow. I’m still in shock.

I got the call yesterday. The contest coordinator told me the news. I’m a finalist in the Lone Star Writing Contest.

She told me I’d have a week to make any judge recommended revisions, and then the piece would be submitted to the final judges. Although, she said she didn’t know what suggestions they’d make with such high scores.

Nothing prepared me for opening the email today and seeing…
perfect scores. Two perfect 100′s one from each judge.

Just… wow. {puts the oxygen mask over my face}

Even the contest coordinator who broke the news raved about the entry.  They said they hope to see it on a bookshelf soon.  Me. Too.

Some judges comments?

  • “Fabulous transition to time travel. One of the best I’ve seen done.”
  • “Beautiful, heart-wrenching descriptions”
  • “Fabulous sexual tension…”

{takes another hit of oxygen}

Last year it won two contests and was a finalist in a third.  An editor for one of the big six publishers requested the manuscript.  I can’t wait to submit to her.

As you know from my blog, I’m elbows deep in editing and having such a blast. I hope to be ready for submission by October.

And my blog next week?  I’d planned to talk about the benefits of entering writing contests.  {smiles huge}
Perfect.  Timing.

Stay tuned… I’ve entered a few other contests this fall.  {vibrates in excitement}

Don’t worry.  I just invested in a case of oxygen tanks. ;)

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

 

 

 

Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Everyone seems to be afraid of… or utterly dread… editing. Going back into work you’ve slaved over and doing the mechanical “stuff.” (highly technical term)

For me? Editing is the most amazing part. Now’s the time I get to shine—weave magic into an already stellar piece of art…or…not…depending on whatever I was thinking when my fingers flew across the keyboard at Mach 13. (which is 9,896 mph, in case you were wondering) … {fogs my nails and buffs them on my shirt}

Why all the anxiety?

Well, by the time you’ve finished. You’re a little bug-eyed. You feel like your head is about to explode. You’ve been so long in the forest you’d forgotten there were trees. With leaves. That are green. Usually.

Like fine wine, some things need to breathe.

Give it a rest.  Let that beauty sit there long enough for the oxygen to enhance your creation… and recharge your brain cells.

So now what?

First, you have to prepare yourself.  Put your sweats on, tie your hair in a high, fluffy ponytail, and keep a dose of dark chocolate close at hand. Put on those sexy librarian glasses that make your man think you’re imminently do-able, but force him to take pause because he knows there’s a whole lot of something else going on over there.

Now, you sit down and break it down—Chapter by chapter; Scene by scene; Paragraph by paragraph… Down to the very last sentence.

  • Is there a goal at the beginning?
  • Was it achieved at the end?
  • Did the world I create pull me in? Can I see it, feel it… smell it?
  • When the tension built, did his inner turmoil come across?
  • Does my plot move forward at just the right pace?
  • Am I using an active or passive verb in that sentence?
  • Did I use the best possible words to convey feelings and action?
  • Are my scene and chapter breaks in places that make sense?

Now. Usually all that analysis, and the weaving of those magical elements, comes in waves for me.  I am a pantster, after all. But the point is, I know what to look for. I know where my weaknesses lie in my drafts. I know how to fix them.

Use “Find” in your word processing program.

Are there repetitive words? Especially unique words that will pull your reader out of the story when they notice. Like… bristled… or askance. Do you really want your readers to stop and think to themselves, “Damn. There’s a whole lot of bristling going on.”? No? Me either.

I’ll never forget, as I looked up synonyms for enormous. I decided to do a word find. I found: 8 enormous, 4 vast, 7 massive, 1 huge, 2 gigantic, 2 giant, 1 mammoth, and 1 gargantuan. I got excited. I had yet to use oversize, colossal, and substantial.

How do I remember that? I’m looking at the yellow sticky pasted to editing notes. 

Okay, Kat. We get it. Everything is massive. {smirks}

Learn your craft.

Trust me, I didn’t always love editing. But, mentor’s words and techniques ring into my head when I’m elbows deep in reworking my rough draft into a polished diamond.

  • J.R. Ward ~ “Finish a book….” … from The Black Dagger Brotherhood, An Insider’s Guide
  • Karen Marie Moning ~ In an introduction to JZB’s POV last year, said she often writes difficult scenes from more than one perspective until she feels it’s perfect.
  • Donald Maass ~ “Rewrite the page… Rewrite this page again… Rewrite this page again…” … from The Fire In Fiction.

What did I take away from those greats? Finish what you started. Make it better. Everyone has to work hard to get results… it isn’t through the wrinkle of a nose like in Bewitched.

What’s the secret to editing?

Perspective is huge. How you go about doing something always impacts the result. Like I always say… about everything… if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

I make it fun, with the sweats and the ponytail and the chocolate. 

As I work through my paper-pushing day job, I can’t wait to finish, so I can tweak that scene. Add the idea that’s rattled around in my head. Polish that rough spot.

For me, the magic truly begins with the editing. The story I’ve written comes to three-dimensional life as the world mists off the pages and surrounds me.

Editing is seducing your story—teasing her slowly with grace and care until the best part of her shines through.

Can you tell I’m in the middle of editing? {laughs}
I’m having a blast with rewrites, revisions, and editing. Oh. My.

I hope you join me… and have fun with seducing your story, too.

Please comment and share your favorite techniques of editing, your challenges, and the pet-peeves you’ve seen in writing that you wish would have been edited.

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Sex Condiments ~ For The Love Of Sensuality…

Sex Condiments ~ For The Love Of Sensuality…

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

We’ve all dabbled in a bit of food… a lot of sex.

No? 

Everyone hasn’t raced back to their hotel room with their man after a romantic dinner, holding the strawberry cheesecake, not able to wait until they got through eating dessert in public before devouring each other in private?

And… when you got back to the hotel room. 
And… were told to strip as he climbed into the hot tub. 
And… he looked at you as if you both hadn’t just eaten. 

As if… he hadn’t eaten in years…

Your man, holding that cheesecake with a wicked smirk on his face.

You did not strip fast. Oh, no.

The sensual dance had begun. Every sense you possessed had already heightened.

By the time you stepped into that hot tub, he had already painted every curve of your body with his mind.  You stood there above him. He sat in the swirling hot water below you. With his fingers, he smeared in achingly slow precision the confection, a five star pastry-chef-created masterpiece, onto your skin in all his favorite places. Together, you created a new work of art.

Hot licks and sucks, moans and shivers, laughs and begging followed as he made dessert out of you…

Mmmmmmm… {thoughts get sidetracked in the fantasy for a moment}

What is it about food…and sex?

If the food is spectacular? Mouths water. Moans are elicited. Breaths are held.  Satisfaction is written on your face as you wrap your lips around your first juicy morsel before the fork is slowly pulled away.

It’s foreplay. If the food is stellar, it can be orgasmic. … {whispers} Although, that can be quite embarrassing in public. If you tend to get…loud.

Sex Condiments… A Party In Sensuality:

Sex Condiments in particular heighten sensuality, bringing the five senses up front and center.

  • Touch:  Hot or cold.
  • Taste:    Sweet, Salty, Spicy…
  • Sound:  The sounds? Very different.
  • Sight:    Things dripping, frosted, slathered, begging to be licked…
  • Smell:   Sweet…mixed with that heady, musky scent of her arousal as the heat gets ramped up.

Haven’t we all wanted to become condiment connoisseurs?  Operating purely off instinct and spontaneity.  If the mood strikes and the topping is available, then partake.  Wholeheartedly.

Suggested sex condiments:

  • Chocolate frosting
  • Ice cream
  • Honey
  • Strawberry cheesecake after a delicious meal in your hotel room hot tub… Oh. Sorry, I strayed there again, didn’t I? {smirks}
  • Whipped cream
  • Hot chocolate sauce or hot caramel sauce

As a writer, the poetry of food and sex is unparalleled. As a woman… or a man… research for writing is a requirement. Lots, and lots, of painstakingly slow research…

What is your favorite topping… I mean sex condiment?

  • Was it being blindfolded, hands bound, not knowing what your wily man was up to, only to gasp in shock when he dripped freezing ice cream onto your most sensitive erotic nerve center? Followed by the soothing heat of his mouth…
  • Your strawberry cheesecake hot tub incident? When laughter… and moans were the alternating sounds?
  • How about when you straddled him, watching his wide-eyed expression below you as you drizzled honey onto your breasts? Slow moving trails of amber liquid pulled by gravity, falling from hardened tips, dripping one sticky drop at a time from your chest onto his until he cannot watch anymore and launches upright, helping clean up that sticky mess with his mouth…

What about hot chocolate or caramel sauce? Whipped cream?

{smiles} Oh, if you haven’t tried them yet, I am so guessing you will…

Since you cannot seem to identify your absolute favorite… More studies are definitely in order.

One VERY important caveat: I’m fairly certain it’s bad for a woman’s … inner ecology… to get sugar up in her whoo-ha (highly technical term) so be sure to clean it completely off slots and tabs before connecting. Licking and sucking thoroughly is suggested, but not guaranteed.

The laughter cleaning up every doorknob, wall corner, counter surface, and floor tile smudged with chocolate or honey… for days… Will be Priceless. (But, watch out for ants!)

Happy research, everyone!  Please comment and share your favorite sex condiments.  Your tips and comments.  And… your research results… {smirks}

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

The Writer and The Industry – David and Goliath

The Writer and The Industry – David and Goliath

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

This week another deal was struck, causing major ripples with readers, writers, and reviewers. Oh. My.

Penguin’s imprint, Berkley, purchased Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno series, including a first printing of 500,000 copies of each book, and the purchase of world and audio rights. The deal inked went into seven-figure territory.

Reynard’s writing began as fan fiction. Thousands of readers loved his books enough to rave about them. And they told two friends, and so on. Sound familiar? Fifty Shades ring a bell?

{stands up and applauds the authors} Good for them. I whole-heartedly support the successes of writers in this difficult to break into industry.

What does this amazing deal mean for us writers?

Nothing.

…and everything.

The publishing industry suffered upheaval in the last few years with self-publishing and e-books shaking the brick-and-mortars. Those that rely on the success of the authors don’t take chances. They want dead-ringers. The beast is an animal we wish we could tame. Alas, we cannot.

The formula hasn’t changed for a writer. Write the best story possible. Get the story out to agents and publishers. Catch someone’s eye… and away we go.

Ahhhh… but therein lies the secret of success. We must catch someone’s eye.

What did Sylvain Reynard and E L James do differently than so many others? The Marketing Fanatic in me is fascinated by their stories.

They started small. They used networking, websites, and social media to gain exposure for their work. When support for their writing flooded in from fans, they were encouraged to reach a broader base through publishing.

Isn’t that what we’re all doing?

Are there critics upset about the wild successes of an author’s quick rise to fame? Of course. There will always be naysayers. Debates and discussion are fueled by opposite points of view.

What does all the excitement mean to me?

{smiles wide}

A grass-roots writer rising up into the big time means that the world is filled with possibilities. Starry-eyed writers, working diligently as they spin stories flowing from their hearts, can have their books published and share their dreams with everyone who wants to escape in them.

There is plenty of room in the industry for the big successes. Some are literary masterpieces and some are wildly popular due to their raw cult appeal. Some are game changers.

Reynard and James are not pioneers in breaking out due to their preliminary accomplishments. Amanda Hocking and John Locke are recent indie-author icons. Don’t forget James Redfield who self-published The Celestine Prophecy, selling 100,000 copies from the trunk of his car—and then the publishing world took notice.

It matters not to me the reasons why someone garnered all the successes that came their way. I’m thrilled and motivated by their rags-to-riches fairy tales. My role as a writer, beyond writing the best novel possible, is to support other authors. I celebrate their successes and support their dreams.

They are my successes. They are my dreams.

I am David. The barrier into the industry is my Goliath. All it takes is one small effective stone to bring that giant to its knees.

{looks at the stone sitting on my desk}

…the ripples of casting that stone … go on infinitely.

I look forward to the day when our time comes, my friends.
Keep believing. Keep writing. Keep supporting.

Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion