Hey folks! Today I’m happy to introduce you to Tess Bowery and her story Rite of Summer!
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Tess has been a fan of historical fiction since learning the Greek and Roman myths at her mother’s knee. Now let loose on a computer, she’s spinning her own tales of romance and passion in a slightly more modern setting. Her work in the performing arts has led to a passion for the theatre and dance in all its forms, and been the inspiration for her current books. Tess lives on the east coast, with her partner of fifteen years and two cats who should have been named ‘Writer’s Block’ and ‘Get Off the Keyboard, Dammit.’
Tess Bowery is an east coast writer of historical LBGT erotic romance (can it get more niche?) She’s an academic with a masters in history, which she is abusing relentlessly in pursuit of happy endings. Rite of Summer is her debut novel. This highly-charged erotic romance is available now for pre-order — https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5451/rite-of-summer — and releases officially on June 2nd.
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~ * ~ TOPIC du JOUR ~ * ~
I asked Tess Bowery, “If you could share one major writing tip, which could assist other writers in their goal of publication, what would it be and how have you implemented it in your own career?” and here is the response.
First off, let me say thank you very much for having me! This whole experience has been amazing so far.
While this is my first published novel, I’ve been involved with writing and editing at a pro and semi-pro level for a little more than fifteen years now. I worked my way through university doing copy editing and proofreading, I’ve taught writing and editing classes, and both worked as a freelance line editor and beta-read for friends off and on all along the way. So I’ve read a lot of stories, and a lot of prose, some of which worked very well, and some of which… didn’t. And it’s not always obvious which manuscripts would end up getting picked up by publishers, or garner lots of kudos and reviews.
The first and most important piece of advice I would give to aspiring writers looking to be published, is to read.
(Yeah, yeah, I know. We write books because we’re readers already and love stories, and what am I thinking, to be saying something so obvious? Bear with me for a minute, here.)
See, the easiest thing to fix in a manuscript is the grammar and spelling. As long as you’ve hit a certain point in literacy, where the reader can understand the story you’re telling and the prose is reasonably clean, a handful of punctuation errors or tense problems aren’t the thing that will make you sink or swim, and a good beta-reader can catch those things before you submit, anyway.
The hardest thing to do right, and do well, is construct a story that keeps a reader’s attention. There are so many demands on peoples’ time, from family and work matters through to the stack of to-be-read books that we all have just waiting for us to get to – a book that isn’t gripping, with character that aren’t compelling, is going to be set aside in favour of the next one in the pile, or the latest episode of Outlander. As authors, we need to give a reader reasons to stick with us.
The easiest way to identify the slow or sticky parts of a story, the places where a reader is going to set a book down and wander off, is to identify those things in other peoples’ writing. Let’s face it; we all love our own stuff. We identify so deeply with our characters and the stories that have been growing in our heads that it’s tough to find the places that just don’t work, the pacing or arcs that are still weak.
So when I say ‘read,’ I mean read for dissection purposes. Read middling fiction – not amazing award-winners, and not the earnest band-fic written by eleven year olds, but published fiction that doesn’t quite grab you. Book that you put down and never felt compelled to return to. And then try and figure out why. Are the characters flat, or developed? Do they act like real human beings, or plot ciphers? What’s the rhythm of the story like? Does it have too many false endings, no real build of tension, or so many twists and turns that you lost track of what was going on?
An exercise called a ‘reverse outline’ is one of the best tools I’ve found to take a story apart and see where the weak spots are. When reading, it’s very easy to be distracted by the prose – so let’s take that away. Start by grabbing a short story, for practice. Boil each section (chapter, scene, or paragraph) down to a sentence or two that describes what happened. (“John goes to the florist and meets Jane; they butt heads over the lilies for his grandmother’s funeral.”) Number each sentence in order, to keep track.
Now step back, and take a look at the flow of the story:
~ Are there places where the plot fizzles out, or diverges into something unrelated to the main story?
~ Are there sections where a secondary character takes over, or someone does something Too Stupid For Words?
~ Does every scene have a specific purpose, either to move the plot forward, or to develop something about one of the main characters?
~ Are there scenes which would make more sense coming earlier, or later, in order to fix a bottleneck?
~ Does the climax of the story happen earlier than at least three-quarters of the way through?
~ Is there something that can be moved in order to draw out or build up the tension that the climax resolves?
Rearrange and shuffle, cut, add and make notes until the outline looks tighter, more streamlined, and the problems you’ve identified have suggestions for fixing. Then put the text back in, and see what needs revising, and what new scenes need to be written to fill in holes in the story.
There’s software that can do this sort of thing for you – Word has an outline function and so on – but I’ve always preferred to do it by hand, sometimes even longhand. It helps me to look at my text in a whole new light. The more of these outline exercises you do, the more you take prose apart and put it back together, the more of an innate feel you’ll develop for the different ways that stories can build, and the ways in which they can fail. And that, by extension, will help you make your own writing sing.
Come by http://www.tessbowery.com on June 2nd, 7 pm Eastern Time, to join me in the chatroom for the release party! I’ll have giveaways and prizes as well as interviews and a social hour. I look forward to seeing everyone!
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There are terrors worse than stage fright. Like falling in love.
Violinist Stephen Ashbrook is passionate about three things—his music, the excitement of life in London, and his lover, Evander Cade. It’s too bad that Evander only loves himself. A house party at their patron’s beautiful country estate seems like a chance for Stephen to remember who he is, when he’s not trying to live up to someone else’s harsh expectations.
Joshua Beaufort, a painter whose works are very much in demand among the right sort of people, has no expectations about this party at all. Until, that is, he finds out who else is on the guest list. Joshua swore off love long ago, but has been infatuated with Stephen since seeing his brilliant performance at Vauxhall. Now he has the chance to meet the object of his lust face to face—and more.
But changing an open relationship to a triad is a lot more complicated than it seems, and while Evander’s trying to climb the social ladder, Stephen’s trying to climb Joshua. When the dust settles, only two will remain standing…
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The man in the portrait was not classically handsome. His mouth was too full and his hair too red for that, his jawline perhaps a little too soft. But his eyes crinkled at the corners with secret mirth, as though sharing a very private joke with the viewer, and those lush and generous lips curled up at one corner. He sat in a smock and his shirtsleeves, a palette on the table behind him. His head tilted very slightly to the side, like he was listening to some secret, lively song. His eyes caught and held Stephen, grey as stormclouds over the cliffs, a hint of blue that was the clear sky breaking through, and a knowing look that struck some chord deep within that Stephen could not immediately name.
Well, he wanted a great many things. But never before had a portrait been responsible for a curl of longing or desire twisting its way up from the center of his being, some vague and wistful sense of thwarted desire focused on that arresting stare.
I wonder if he would look at me that way in life.
I wonder who he is.
A faint scuff of feet behind was all that gave Stephen warning before someone spoke, and he managed neither to whip around in surprise, nor jump like a child caught where he shouldn’t be. “He’s not a particularly good-looking fellow, to deserve such lengthy scrutiny.”
The voice was an unfamiliar one, a warm rich tenor that verged on a deeper range, a faint northern accent coloring the tone.
“I suppose not,” Stephen replied, pausing to allow his heart to slow before he introduced himself. “If you value men solely based on looks. But there is more life in his expression than in all the other portraits put together. Either the sitter was a man of uncommon vivacity, or the painter was exceptionally fond of him.”
He turned and looked at the man standing behind him.
His hair was shorter now, and he was dressed for dinner, his cravat impeccably tied and tucked into a cream waistcoat. The man from the portrait stepped in to the gallery, framed by a shaft of light that fell across the floor from the hall. His eyes had not been exaggerated. They had been perhaps underplayed, and that grey-blue gaze regarded Stephen with a peculiar intensity. He was a little taller than Stephen, his frame of very pleasing proportions, and had a controlled energy to his walk that suggested strength lying beneath the layers of wool and linen.
“Or he was his own painter,” the newcomer said, his lip quirking up in that selfsame knowing smile, “and both irredeemably prone to vanity and in desperate need of an honest friend to check him in his fancy.”
~ * ~ BUY ~ * ~
~ * ~ GIVEAWAY ~ * ~
Tess Bowery will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. CLICK HERE to enter to Win! Readers, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates and places can be found here: Tour Schedule
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Tess Bowery, thank you for stopping by today!
Love & blessings to all! ❤