Another Attempt

I’m sorry to say I was not able to impress the publisher I hoped to snag. That didn’t make me want to give up, though I’ve been making noises over self-publishing. I’m sure you know I hate the idea. The hubs, always my cockeyed optimist and strongest supporter, found an agent searching for my genre, and after pacing the house for over an hour, I drafted the email and sent it off. Another six weeks to wait.

If my unpublished works are accepted but not the back list, I’ll look into self-publishing those myself. Having the backing of an established publisher with marketing assistance will help bring Haven’s Realm to a broader audience and guide readers to find the rest, so I’ll have to make sure they’re available. I promised not to disappoint you, my cherished readers, and I’m doing my level best to follow through on that promise.

I’ll say it again–Haven’s Realm isn’t dead, just on sabbatical. My friends are once again gathered in their private circle, meditating in hopeful suspense, and I frequently join them. Keep your eyes here for the latest updates. #HavensRealm

Respectfully submitted,

~Tamara Monteau

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Poking My Head Out

I did it again, didn’t I? I sank into the Realm and got lost. I’m sure you’re all wondering what happened to me. Well, I’ll tell you–Trey happened. The big guy grabbed me by the short hairs, and I’ve been pinned down ever since.

I suppose I should start where I left off. I fully intended to go to market after finishing Christian’s story, but with the holidays approaching, I had very little time. (Life happens!) I purchased a new copy of the Writer’s Market and started making a list of prospective agents, but after reading the supporting articles, the process became overwhelming. My dear hubs volunteered to take me to a writer’s conference in Atlanta, so I decided to wait and further my education. That’s when Trey started growling.

It takes experience to learn the art–I guess you would consider it an art–of communicating with a publisher. Sometimes their subtle responses slip past my understanding. I’m going to attempt again to contact the house I approached before with my first novel, and offer them the last. This particular publisher feels to me like a good fit for Haven’s Realm, but the editor who responded asked to see new work. I took that to mean she wouldn’t consider my back list. Silly me. Well, now I have nine completed works, three of those titles not previously published, and I’m going to try and get it right this time.

I know you’ve probably given up on me by now. If you haven’t, I applaud your tenacity. I continually find myself thanking you for your patience. The hubs threatened to pull the plug on my best friends. It’s “shit or get off the pot” time, as Mom would say. I will hit send…

repeat after me, Tam–you will hit send, you will hit send…

…by the start of next week. I had to contact the publisher (I won’t say their name and risk jinxing myself) for guidance and must wait for a response and act on it. The hubs will start his final read-through tonight. He’s my logic reader. A copy is also in the hands of my favorite beta reader.

I find myself bracing for the possibility of acceptance. I remember well how much stress I went through when I signed on with Secret Cravings and met the task of publishing four books in two years. It’s an incredibly detailed process, in many ways more challenging than writing or working up the nerve to submit, and if Haven’s Realm is accepted, publishing nine titles will make me a very busy woman for much longer. I’m looking forward with a careful smile and the hope that I can handle it.

I have posted a new article on my website describing my latest book. I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about the Demon Chief while I attempt to make him public. I’m sure there will be a wait, but he’ll definitely be worth it.

Warmest regards,

Tamara Monteau, Author

Writing Novels in a Series

Hello, cherished readers! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last posted, but my brain has been permanently lodged in Haven’s Realm. Ever since I lost my place on the shelf, I’ve been buried in mountains of editing work. I’ve come to a very important conclusion — you have to write well into a series before you can know the culture well enough to write it.

Starting with book one, chapter one, page one, I’ve rewritten the entire Haven’s Realm saga, incorporating an ever-improving writing style and all that I’ve learned during my writing adventure. Joshua MacAaron, my first vampire from the Community, was shy and reserved when confiding his secrets, and I didn’t have a whole lot of information to go on. I didn’t know who Jason was or the events leading to the founding of my noble clan until I had an opportunity to speak with the king himself. I interjected that knowledge into my first novel, giving readers a better understanding of the world they were exploring.

Dragon Lord is another story that has undergone a profound change. I found while reviewing the work that I had almost completely ignored the title character. I left numerous holes — bits of plot that dropped out of sight and opportunities for character advancement that were ignored — and filling them took a lot of patience. Ronan still wasn’t talking, and I had to force it out of him. He feels much better now.

Over the last three years, I’ve scrutinized each and every paragraph at least a dozen times, cleaning out unnecessary fluff and smoothing story flow. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I expect any editor out there to put their publisher’s spin on things, and I’m good with that. I restructured two of the stories and completed two new titles. Haven’s Realm now stands eight novels strong, and I’ve begun work on the ninth. I have notes and sketches for several more after that, and I can’t wait to show it all to you.

All eight titles are as clean as I can make them and ready to go. I managed to condense each massive novel into 2-page synopses — not an easy task for one who is not known for brevity. I have a timeline issue to resolve so all books are consistent in facts, and I need to polish the series outline and query I intend to send. This shouldn’t take long. I’ve also updated my website with a new look and content. After drowning in a sea of English for years, switching to html — a language I once spoke fluently — was a challenge I didn’t expect.

Slipping back into the media is also going to be a challenge. I’ve gotten used to the company of my ‘friends’, and feel like an ostrich whose head has been stuck in the sand for ages. Or like Lucien, waking after a hundred years to find so much has changed. My solitary existence is coming to an end, and that is as frightening as it is exciting. I hope I can keep up!

I want to offer profound apologies to every one of you who has been waiting for Haven’s return. You’ve been patient with me, and I truly appreciate that. I hope you consider the end result well worth the wait.

…and, I promise to keep you posted!

Respectfully submitted,

~ Tamara Monteau

Nine-Eleven

dsc_0042It’s hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since that fateful day when the American public lost its innocence. I’ve been trying to watch the testimonials and such that have aired most of the day, but the trauma of that day, and how it has changed our world, is hard to face.

My memories of that day are unremarkable. I worked at the time as an administrative assistant for Reengineering, an organization on Robins Air Force Base that focused on improving the mission by improving processes. I was on my computer, working on yet another PowerPoint presentation for one of my bosses, when someone ran through the office shouting that an airplane had just struck one of the buildings at the World Trade Center. Since attacks against this complex had happened before, I dismissed the event, sad to say. But when a second strike occurred, we all knew something very bad had happened.

The television we had on a cart in the back of the conference room was brought to the office and plugged in, and we walked past it while conducting our routine, but we became more and more attracted to the horrors on the news. It became clear early on that something very bad, even catastrophic, had begun, and the reactions were mixed. Some cried, some paced the office in anger, and others grew concerned about their loved ones. The overall mood grew darker by the moment.

I recall looking in on our director, and watching his face turn red. You had to know our colonel as well as I did to know he was royally pissed – he turned red from the collar up. He was something like a pressure gage. The deeper the red got, the more likely he was to explode, and the man was glowing. He muttered something like, “I knew we should have taken him out when we had the chance”, but I didn’t understand. Later, my husband told me he was probably referring to Osama Bin Laden, someone I had never heard of before since I rarely watched the news. The colonel dismissed everyone, civilian and contractor alike, but while I watched the other secretaries leave and the director obviously staying, I simply couldn’t leave, even with the promise of a full-day’s pay. I stayed and supported my colonel until the day was done.

The base locked down overnight, so it took me two and a half hours to reach the base gate to go to work the next day. It didn’t get any better over time, in fact, it got much worse. My husband’s hours grew longer because he was still active duty Air Force at the time. Even the kids tell me they felt the stress. In fact, I finished the Tigger mural pictured here for my oldest daughter just three days before, and she is emotionally attached to it. When we get ready to sell, I’ll have to figure out how to carve it out of her bedroom wall and mount it on a canvas for her. When the state of the world was at its worst, she would look at the pleasant face painted on her wall, and all was well again. I wish my world was as easy to tame.

Our government has betrayed us. Terrorism has reached an all-time high in the last seven years. I’m afraid to go to any restaurant, theater, or other “soft target” for fear some extremist will want to make an example of me. We should have been fostering peace, but now even greater threats loom, and I can’t blame anyone but our federal leadership. Even domestic issues have accelerated until I’m afraid of everyone. I won’t ever fly again – there’s just too much danger, either of life or limb, or of dignity. I’m not a biggot, or a homophobe, or an islamaphobe, or any other phobe. I’m simply afraid of being punished for who I am, and won’t be able to walk the streets in confidence until our world, as a whole, gets better.

So today I pray for our nation, as I pray for the world and all mankind. If only we could all live in the peace and mutual respect I write about in Haven’s Realm.

~Tamara Monteau

 

206-695-9413

It’s funny how some numbers stick in your mind, no matter how much time passes since the last time you needed them. I’ve never been good with numbers. Dates and figures elude me, no matter how I try to remember, but this obsolete phone number is still in there.

I remember when Father became temporarily disabled. Because he was unemployed, Mom had to register us with the Social Security Administration, so she could continue to receive child support until Father completed college and secured a better job. I held that paper card in my hands for hours, studying the blue on gray print, closing my eyes to repeat it, but that number never stayed long in my overly imaginative mind. It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force, where reciting your social is as mandatory as service numbers were in World War II, that I finally memorized these nine crucial numbers.

But the number that rang to the home I grew up in remains, lodged in the darkest corner where memories of my youth and the warmth and fellowship of family reside. This was a time when dialing a long distance call required ten turns of the clicking dial while your heart raced with the rare anticipation of speaking with someone from another state. I still recall how my hands trembled when Mom let me dial the number to a cousin clear across the country who was my age. I never met her, and only spoke to her that once, but the way I felt making the call still lingers after 40-odd years.

Today, such miracles are commonplace. When I grew up, knowledge came from books–real paper books–many of them heavy encyclopedia volumes and hard-cover tomes I hauled by the armload to a library table where my note pad and pencil waited. My first literary composition was a piece of poetry I wrote into a hard-bound book full of blank pages. I still have the book, and although only the first few pages are filled, the illustrations and reflections bring back fond memories. Now information comes from the numerous websites and blogs available on the global network, and our children regard bound books the way Scotty looked at a keyboard during Star Trek, The Voyage Home. For those of you who are not Trek fans, this is the spoiled dismay one feels when faced with antiquated forms.

Sometimes I could wish for these simpler times, when you were constrained to the four to six channels on a thirteen-channel television set with either an aerial cable or rabbit ears connected to the top. We watched as a family on evenings and weekends, our minds broadened by shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild KingdomThe World At War, and 60 Minutes (yes, it’s been on that long, and I waited through all the interviews and commentary for Andy Rooney to give his thought-provoking, and most often humorous, closing thoughts). We laughed at shows like Laugh-In, All In The Family, and The Beverly Hillbillies, explored the future in shows like Star Trek and Lost In Space, and kept up with national events on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love technology. So, unfortunately, does my husband, who spends most of his free time tethered to one boob-tube or another. I couldn’t imagine writing without a computer, and the things I’ve learned to do with a PC have enriched the lives of my family in some surprising ways. And I probably might appreciate the convenience if I were in a bar where the music was so loud the only way to converse with your date is to text him from across the table.

But I see so many children, my 10-year-old granddaughter included, who long for these marvelous toys. Teens and twenties meet for dinner at restaurants, and sit throughout the meal while texting, playing games, or browsing the Internet. My son and his friends are hooked on the new Pokemon game, careless of the information this program’s servers are gathering and storing. People are choosing convenience over a modicum of common sense and caution. Or have I read Orwell’s 1984 too many times?

I’m going to close my eyes, envision the avocado phone hanging on the wall between the kitchen and dining room, and dial the number that rang where life was simple. A 10-year-old child could safely walk a mile to the corner drug store alone. (Lowe’s Market–a convenience store where you could buy stamps and post mail, fill prescriptions, and buy goods and sundries. Oh, and there was a Dairy Queen right next door!) I had four quarters and three nickels jingling in my pocket, with which I would buy a real feast that included a quart-sized milk carton filled with Whoppers, Big Hunk nougat bars, three-foot licorice or cherry ropes (I liked the cherry) and wax containers filled with flavored sugar water. We knew who we were back then. No one was an enemy, no matter their color or background. We respected the law and its officers, and shopped at the same stores, smiling and holding doors because that’s the proper thing to do, and thanking someone who extends that courtesy.

So meet me on 44th Avenue any Saturday afternoon. We’ll listen to the AM radio while we dance under the sprinkler, lay out on the lawn and study the clouds, and laugh at all those who think we really need more.

~Tamara Monteau

Treacherous Destiny Submitted!

I am both pleased and terrified to announce that I have submitted the first book in the Haven’s Realm saga to my target publisher for consideration. In order not to jinx things, I won’t tell you who at this time, but I’ve researched this house, and they put out some great stories. Waiting for their response is just about going to kill me!

When I learned it was eligible for republication with the current publisher, I considered rewriting Joshua and Catherine’s story. I opened the manuscript and began scrutinizing it, and realized for the first time just how much I learned while with Secret Cravings Publishing. The work was truly cringe-worthy. Sad thing is, I really thought it was better than my original version. I didn’t get far before fate pulled the rug out from under Haven’s Realm, and when I regained my footing, I worked harder than ever to improve my first novel. Five months of head-banging later, I’m finally here.

I suppose it is the same with all writers of series, especially ones as large or larger than mine, that we learn more about the worlds we create the more we write. When I first wrote Joshua’s story, he had very little to say. I poked him some after I wrote Haven’s King, and was able to get a little more from him, but my writing skill at the time prevented me from adequately expressing all that this story represents. For that, and to those of you who have read Twilight Destiny, I encourage you to give Joshua and Catherine another read when Treacherous Destiny is released.

So keep an eye here for more updates. I expect not to hear back for three months, time that I’ll invest in updating the rest of the series. I have other submissions in mind, but want to approach them one at a time, beginning with my first choice. A long road, I’ll admit, but I have a lot of work to do in the interim.

Oh, and for those of you who’ve been asking, Trey is talking up a storm. His will be book eight!

Thank you for reading! And…wish me luck!

~Tamara Monteau

Putting all my ducks in a row

Greetings, cherished readers!

I know it has been some time since I posted to this blog, and I apologize for that. I’ve been working feverishly on Haven’s Realm ever since I lost my publisher, and am excited to say that Treacherous Destiny, Haven’s Realm 1, is almost ready to be submitted to a new publisher. The manuscript is about as clean as I and my professional editor can make it, and I just finished updating my website. Check out the new articles and features on http://www.Havens-Realm.com!

Approaching a prospective publisher is tricky business, and I’ve developed a checklist to keep my prep work in order. Now that the MS is complete and the synopsis polished, I centered my attention on updating my web and social media sites. I think this is the last of them. Next comes preparing an outline of the series, because I know any publisher will want that, and then I must prepare a query that will make my work next to impossible to say no to. I think I’ll stop there and hit send, then move on to taking a marketing course.

If you’ve read Twilight Destiny, you’ll be happy to know the story’s plot remained the same when I rewrote for Treacherous Destiny. I cleaned up story flow, enhanced emotional color, and added a great deal of information regarding the Community and their culture, details that were lacking in the first releases. I believe the changes I’ve made give a whole new feel to the story, and I’ll encourage you to revisit my friends Joshua and Catherine when they once again grace store shelves. If you haven’t read it yet, then you’re in for a real treat!

I have a tall hill to climb as I work to bring the rest of the series up to speed, and I expect there will be a lot more work to be done when my manuscripts hit a fresh editor’s desk, but I’m up to the challenge, and will do my best to give you a memorable reading experience. As for the additional stories you’ve been anxiously waiting and asking for, please don’t lose heart. Trey has been whispering in my ear, so those who are fans of my black giant will be delighted to know he’s next in line. Haven’s Realm isn’t dead, just on sabbatical, and their vacation will end very soon.

Thank you all for your patience!

~Tamara Monteau

The end of an era for Haven’s Realm

It is with the greatest sorrow that I must announce the closing of Secret Cravings Publishing. Haven’s Realm has been taken off the market, but I promise you that isn’t the end of the saga!

While I await the release notices for my right to republish, I’m working on preparing the series for submission to a number of publishing houses. Twilight Destiny is currently in the hands of my final beta reader, and I’m preparing the supporting documentation to present the saga. I intend to take my time, get things just right in my heart and head, before I make my next move.

Jason and his Council are waiting patiently at the moment, ready to voice their support should they be called on while I revamp (no pun intended) each book. I know I can promise better detail, stronger sensuality and passion, and a much more satisfying read between every set of covers.

I’ve learned a lot from the Secret Cravings staff, and owe Sandy Sullivan my respect and gratitude. I will carry their lessons forward while I do the same for Haven’s Realm.

~Tamara Monteau

Join me today in an interview with John Austin!

JohnAustinI’m once again on The Book Club, discussing my latest release, Midnight Skye!

AustinInterviewListen to the podcast live at http://www.tantalk1340.com, or any time at http://internetradiopros.com/bookclub/?p=episode&name=2015-06-17_zbookclub_for_062315_tamara_monteau_midnight_and_skye.mp3!

The Writer’s Journey

A fan asked me a while back about the publication process. This comes up a lot, and she seemed genuinely surprised by all that publishing a novel entails. Today I’ll make this my topic of conversation.

Of course, first and foremost, you need to write and complete a story. It has to be original, or contain a new twist on an old idea. This alone is a daunting task, successful only to those who truly believe in their work, and have the fortitude to see it through. When I tell someone I’m a published author, about half the time I receive the same reaction–“Yeah, I have a book I’ve been meaning to write…” Trust me. Meaning to isn’t doing, and doing is a lot harder than it sounds. I tell them all the same thing. Sit down and write a little every day. An hour is sufficient, as long as you stick with it. That’s the key.

So now you have a completed manuscript. Congratulations. You’ve nursed it, coddled and fed it, and the final words of the final chapter bring you great satisfaction. “I did it,” you tell all your friends. “I finally finished that book.” Well, guess what. You’re not even halfway down the path to a published work. Next comes self-editing. This is where you dissect that carefully assembled product and weed out the bugs. You’ll second guess plot and dialog, add, subtract and rearrange, polish every word until you can, honestly, read someone else’s work and think, Hey, mine’s better than that. When you reach that stage, it’s time to find a publisher.

Now, I can’t speak for publishing houses, but I imagine each must receive thousands of submissions every year. The competition is stiff. You have to sell your book right out of the envelope, so to speak, convince the house you are contacting that this book is worthy of sale. To that end, you have to first sit back with a blank canvas, choose the most important plot elements, and condense your book into a two-page synopsis. It has to be concise and tell the basic story, and it absolutely has to be free of typos and editing mistakes. Your writing style will be judged here.

Next comes the query letter, these days an email containing your completed manuscript and synopsis, and an explanation to catch the attention of the submissions department. I begin by naming the title, tell how many words and if the work is complete, the genre, and if the book is part of a series, the series title. A blurb outlining the idea of the story follows, and it should be brief, generally 150 words, and should make the reader want to know more. This is the same text you browse through on the back covers at your local bookstore. Now thank them for their time and consideration, and push send.

Then you sit back and wait for a reply. And trust me on this as well–it’s a killer. It may take as little as two, or as many as four weeks to receive a reply, depending upon how busy the publishing house is at the time. You really don’t want to hear back any sooner than that. A reply that comes two days later is probably a “Thank you, but not what we’re looking for” let down. In my opinion, the longer the wait, the more closely they’re considering offering you a contract. Don’t send followup messages every day and irritate the crap out of them, just be patient.

At long last, if you’re good and very lucky, someone will offer you a contract. Read it. Read it again. If you agree to the terms, sign and mail back. Now you can call yourself a published author. Go ahead and do your happy dance, you definitely deserve it! But the journey does not end there. Oh, no. You’ve only reached the top of the mountain. Now you have to work your way down the other side. And this, to many, seems the most surprising of all.

While you’re waiting to be assigned an editor, you’ll polish your blurb and submit information to the company for the development of your cover. You probably have a pretty good idea what your cover should look like, and you can express those ideas here. I’ve often found that giving just the right info–main character descriptions, etc.–and letting the artist do his/her thing is best. Once the final product is approved both by you and management, you can use the image to promote interest in your book.

By now, your editor is probably ready for you. Be prepared for compromise, and don’t be too much in love with your own words. These people are professionals, and know what works. Be patient, tolerant, and cooperative. Most of the time, you’ll progress smoothly through this step. You’ll go around a few times before you’re both happy with the finished product and are ready for formatting.

But there will be times when standing your ground is crucial. A good case in point is my own journey through my first Haven’s Realm novel. The editor I drew seemed, for the most part, fixated on another series, and pestered me no end until I finally had to say, “Look. The story is what it is.” There is nothing in the plot that resembles the work I have never read–I didn’t see the movies until after I first made my story public. Thankfully, when I moved on to book two, I was reassigned, and my new editor loves my work. I give her my full cooperation, but there are times when I need to explain why something is said a certain way, or point to a reference earlier in the story. I do have to say, however, that sometimes my editor has a suggestion on word usage, such as British slang or swear, that vastly improves that one sentence, and I’m always open to improvement.

At this stage, most of your pre-release work is done. You’ll see an email or two while the work is assembled and formatted, and I strongly recommend reviewing the entire manuscript every time. Until the day it goes live, there’s still time to correct that troublesome typo. In the meantime, you can organize your release party and prepare yourself for the day your book goes live. When that day finally arrives, and you’re holding a copy of your very own book in your hot little hands, do another happy dance, and move on to marketing. And, oh yes, get started on that next book!

Thank you for spending time with me today, cherished readers!

Tamara Monteau