WELCOME ERICA HAYES
Author of Redemption
“Weaves rich sensual imagery and dark eroticism into a breathless thriller plot… Hayes characters have distinct and delightful voices, and she’s developed considerable skill at blending the gritty and the supernatural.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Steamy urban fantasy...magical [and] fast-paced.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews
Erica Hayes is the author of dark urban fantasy/romance: the Seven Signs series from Berkley Sensation and the Shadowfae Chronicles from St Martin's Press. Also romantic science fiction: Dragonfly from Momentum Books.
Don't forget to leave a comment below to win a copy of Redemption or a Margie lecture packet!
Erica Hayes won a prestigious writing contest in Australia. A contest that launched her into print.
Margie Asks Erica:
Please share your road to publication. Other contests? Rejections?
It seems strange to say I got published the 'old-fashioned' way! But 2008 is the olden days now. Amazon was loss-leading ebooks at $10 (!!) and self-publishing was only just getting off the ground.
I queried, I submitted, I waited… waited… Truth is, my first few manuscripts and queries weren't much good. I got a bunch of well-deserved rejections. But everyone has to start somewhere, and you can't improve without doing.
One of the best things I ever did to improve was take Margie's one-day Deep Editing course at the Australian RWA conference. And no, I'm not just saying that :)
Talk about having a 'light-bulb moment' (cliche alert!) -- it was raining light-bulbs in Melbourne that day!
That was the year I won a contest, and also the year I got my agent and sold my first book. I think writing's a bit like that, whether you're aiming for traditional publication or venturing into self-pub: it's not a linear progression. It has plateaus, where you work your butt off, but seem to be getting nowhere… and then one day, all your effort coalesces, and you leap to the next level.
So if you're not getting the sales you want, or can't seem to land that perfect agent or contract? Don't be discouraged. Keep at it. Learn as much as you can, and keep your eyes open for opportunities. One day, your work will pay off.
Thank you Erica! I’m so glad I got to meet you at RW Australia!
Your writing is as fresh as your characters. And it’s fast-paced and funny and powerful.
BLOG GUESTS – Here’s a passage that introduces the demon prince.
Slick rosy lips, dark eyes flashing with unholy fire. Fluvium, Prince of Thirst. Creator and master of the Babylon vampire covens.
And she was totally, helplessly, irrevocably his slave.
Sick fever crawled her spine. Her voice trembled. “Damn it, Fluvium, you scared the shit out of me. Why can’t you just walk up and say ‘hi’ like a normal person?”
“Sweet Rose, I’m disappointed you’d say such a thing.” Fluvium shoved hands in pockets, his embroidered black coat flaring around his knees. Freakish face, ethereal, his bones impossibly sharp and fine. Tonight, his perfect chin was artfully unshaven, and a shiny golden ring pierced one earlobe. He wore a ruffled white shirt, black trousers and tall boots, a glistening violet scarf, and his deliciously dark hair—just a midnight purple shadow belying his inhuman nature—tousled at his collar beneath a raven-feathered, three-cornered hat.
Deep Edit Analysis:
Power words: slick, flashing, unholy, fire, creator, master vampire, covens, helplessly, slave, sick, fever, crawled, spine, trembled, damn, scared, shit, normal, disappointed, freakish, ethereal, bones, impossibly, sharp, perfect, pierced, deliciously, midnight, inhuman, raven-feathered.
A paragraph later:
Rose’s cheeks burned. She’d thought herself so streetwise, a girl from the projects who’d seen it all. Fit, trained in self-defense, pepper spray in her purse. Besides, she’d dated—ahem, read slept with, she didn’t have time for real dating, not with stage rehearsals and shows until late, and looking after Bridie since Mommy sold one baggie too many and earned herself ten-to-twelve in the state pen—she’d dated guys who were a lot less classy. Just warm bodies, staving off loneliness. But this man had style, charm, a hint of sexy threat that tempted her breathless.
Deep Edit Analysis: Visceral response. Slipped in several hits of backstory in a compelling way. Intentional Authorial Intrusion, ahem piece, shares info and Humor Hit.
Contrasted previous guys Rose dated to this guy, and shared what attracted her to the demon (stimulus) and how she reacted (response).
Margie Asks Erica:
Did you make many changes to the paragraphs above? If so, how did they evolve?
Word choices, mostly. As you can see, I write with a lot of adjectives. My first drafts always have too many. How do I know it's too many? When they destroy the cadence, and overload the reader with information they don't need. It's a matter of picking the most important adjectives, and the ones that sound the best when you read aloud.
Cadence is important to me. Maybe it's because I'm a musician, and very conscious of rhythm. A writer I admire very much is Stephen King, and he's a master of cadence. So often I discard perfectly good words because they just don't sound right.
BLOG GUESTS: I could share hundreds of teaching examples from REDEMPTION. But I’ll limit myself to sharing five more. We’ll dig deep into the fifth example.
1. She staggered, and screamed. Her vision shorted out.
Deep Edit Analysis: Simple and powerful. Alliteration. Parallelism. Fresh visceral response.
2. But the sight of Rose’s beautiful face, now a mass of bruises and burns, eclipsed the magical hatred like a rock blotting out the sun.
Deep Edit Analysis: Used bruised and burned face as a stimulus for an amplified power internalization based on a simile. Power words: beautiful, bruises, burns, eclipsed, magical hatred, rock, blotting out, sun. Fresh writing. Perfect cadence.
3. Yes, she loathed Fluvium to his hellcursed bones. But she feared hell more.
Deep Edit Analysis: Serious message conveyed with Humor Hit. Erica made it two sentences, for emphasis. Power words: hellcursed, bones, feared, hell. Perfect cadence.
4. He’d stab this prince of bullshit through his lying heart and watch him die.
Deep Edit Analysis: Simple and powerful. Power words: stab, prince, bullshit, lying, heart, die. Perfect cadence.
5. Michael speared straight at him, wings streamlined back, shrieking electric blue hatred. Japheth met him head on. Sword blades clashed. Lightning struck and sizzled. His arm jarred with the force of the blow, and they hit the ground together. He whipped his wings taut, and rolled, just in time to avoid Michael’s stabbing sword point . . . but the archangel’s fist slammed into Japheth’s trailing wrist, and his hell-spelled blade shrieked and shattered.
Margie Talks Action Scenes!
Redemption is loaded with action scenes, each one as credible as it is incredible.
Stimulus-response patterns? Check.
Fresh writing? Check.
Rhetorical devices? Check.
So strategic, stylistic, and stellar, they place the reader in the action and make them flinch? Check. Check. Check. Check!
And they make writers wish they’d written that action scene? Check!
Margie Asks Erica –
Do you act out your action scenes?
What tips, recommendations, or quirky suggestions do you have for our blog guests?
I act out the scenes in my head, if not in real life! I try not to make the action too confusing, with too much choreography. This is not a movie, where you can have endless set-pieces.
It's the same with a love scene: you can outstay your welcome (cliché alert!) with readers if you go on too long. They'll say, okay, we get it!
Sword fight, blah blah. Move on! What happens now? And that means SKIMMING. No one wants skimming.
If in doubt? Cut it, and see what happens.
Mixing up the sentence lengths is important, too. It adds suspense. It keeps the reader interested. And with shorter sentences, you can emphasize your power words. It's as if the entire sentence becomes its own power word. Like this. Boom.
Because I write paranormals, I can get away with added wackiness. In the paragraph above, I have a character shrieking electric blue hatred.
That doesn't actually make sense, right? But in context, the reader understands.
It's an image of beauty and power. And it's surprising. Surprising is good. It sucks readers in.
So don't be afraid to play with words, create strange effects, aim for color and freshness. Readers are clever. They'll get it!
Erica – I love your suggestions. I knew you were smart smart smart. :-)
Margie Asks Erica –
What are some of the things you learned from me that make your writing stronger?
Honestly, where do I begin? I love Margie's rhetorical devices! They're so simple, yet add so much power. I don't remember what half of the devices are called, but the more I write, the more I use them without thinking.
Perfect! Writers don’t need to remember the names of those 30 rhetorical devices. But they do need to use them!
Like I said, cadence is important to me. But I didn't really understand why until I studied Margie's course, and the examples she uses from high-impact NYT writers like Harlen Coben or Jodie Picoult.
Yes! Cadence-driven writing rules! Darynda Jones, Elizabeth Essex, Renee Ryan, Pamela Palmer, Shirley Jump, Nalini Singh, Randy Ingermanson, and dozens more Margie-Grads would agree with you!
Backloading was a big one for me. It's such a simple, powerful technique, but so easily overlooked, unless you know what to look for.
The EDITS system is terrific. Whenever I have a problem scene – something that's not working, but I don't know why – I whip out the highlighters. The solution is often so simple. Among my writing buddies, 'to Margie' is a verb. As in, 'I need to Margie this chapter!'
But most importantly? I learned that you don't have to rely on all these cool effects and devices happening to your writing by accident. You can make them happen. But you have to know what they are first. Which is where Margie comes in!
Margie -- Thanks so much for having me on the blog!
Erica – Deep Editing and the EDITS System to the rescue!
Good for you for working so hard to make your writing strong.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to the questions. I appreciate you.
Remember to leave a comment for the chance
a book from Erica
an online course from Margie!