Thursday, April 9, 2009

Guest Blogger Courtney Sheets, author of KONA WARRIOR


Today we welcome Courtney Sheets, author of the paranormal erotic romance novel KONA WARRIOR to the blog. Take it away, Courtney!


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First off, I’m really excited to be here today! Thanks to the talented Jamaica Layne for having me. Second how great is it that I get to blog about Hawaiian Mythology, sex, and that elusive first novel.

I’m a newbie to the world of romance writing. Not in the sense that I just started writing but in the sense that my first book, Kona Warrior, was published recently by Ravenous Romance. I have a stack of rejection letters a couple inches thick. I could probably wallpaper my den with them if I was so inclined.

For every fifty no’s you get a yes. Or so a wise college professor once told me. It doesn’t matter I was taking a musical theatre class at the time, I think the adage holds true for the writing world as well as the theatrical one.


The written word has held me captive from an early age. You all know what I mean. I’m talking the "bad poetry in the kitchen" phrase. We’ve all been there. I didn’t seriously start to write in the “I want to make this my career” sense until about my mid-twenties. While tolling away as a salesgirl in a department store, I bought a book called Write and Sell Your First Novel and a copy of The Writer’s Market. I was ready. I was prepared. I was going to write the next bestseller. I would be the next Stephen King or Tom Clancy. Boy was I in for a wake-up call.
I wrote and submitted, submitted and wrote, off and on for the next year and a half. The rejection letters kept piling up until I realized a very important thing---my writing was dull. I don’t mean dull in the style, simply the genre I had thrust myself into was not conducive to who I am. I was not being true to myself or my craft. This is when I discovered paranormal romance.
I devoured paranormal from the minute I picked up my first Christine Feehan book. Until one scorching hot summer’s day---I live in Las Vegas, it’s like living on the sun---I was standing in Borders and looked up to see vampire romances as far as the eye can see. Row and upon row of Tortured Gothic Vamps and the slayers who love them, and not a single Greek God or Aztec princess among them. I was annoyed. Ms. Feehan, while in my opinion a good storyteller, had started to get a little redundant. I wanted something new. With some many amazing cultures in this world you'd think publishing would branch out. So I decided I would write my own paranormal. And I did write one, a tremendously bad Banshee story that is now locked in a vault safe from human eyes lest readers be turned into stone. That book cratered around the time I took a trip with my family to the Big Island of Hawaii. There I found what I need to kick start my true writing path. Two helpful items in particular come to mind, the beauty of our fiftieth state and Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Warren Beckwith.

Beckwith’s book is the definitive collection of Hawaiian myth. For a long time it was the only written record of many of the tales of Pele, Lono, and the other gods. With good old Martha by my side and a view of Kilauea, came the idea for Kona Warrior.

As I wrote about the ancient Hawaiian tradition, I came to respect Hawaii and it culture heritage more and more each day. Hawaii myth is an oral tradition passed down by generation to generation. However much of that was done in secret as the Christian Missionaries who first came to the islands forbade the telling of pagan stories. Also the hula was outlawed. Hula was one way the native Hawaiians told stories.

I submitted the completed novel to several big publishing houses and luckily some nice intern had slipped a note onto the usual form letter rejections. My problem you see was not my manuscript, but my synopsis and query letter. You see I was dull again. From this I learned that not only does your novel need to sing, but your query letter and synopsis need to suck the reader in as well. Without that powerful first glimpse into your world, you will never get out of the gate. I sat down and revamped everything. Made it punchy, gave it more zip, put in more sparkle, okay I’m done with the clichés now. What I’m trying to say is look at your submission package as a whole product, not as three individual pieces. That package represents you.
Double and triple check everything before you submit to publishers or agents. Like an actor, the product you are selling is you.

The best advice I can give to someone trying to break into writing comes from a paperweight my mother gave me after another rejection letter hit me. It says “You haven’t failed until you give up.” Find your niche, be true to your art, and keep trying.
For more information on Kona Warrior, go to http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/kona-warrior.php?flypage=0

While you there take a look around at all the great stories Ravenous has to offer.

4 comments:

  1. I love that line - "You haven't failed until you give up." Perfect advice for aspiring writers. You have one smart mom!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! Very inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I feel deplorable your blog.. sex, romance.. I read your comments about academic professors and I really thought you were an expert from Chicago University. what a deplorable writer you are!! writing sex, sex.. and you dare to criticize professors from Harvard University, Tulane University..



    Today we welcome Courtney Sheets, author of the paranormal erotic romance novel KONA WARRIOR to the blog. Take it away, Courtney!




    -----




    First off, I’m really excited to be here today! Thanks to the talented Jamaica Layne for having me. Second how great is it that I get to blog about Hawaiian Mythology, sex, and that elusive first novel.

    I’m a newbie to the world of romance writing. Not in the sense that I just started writing but in the sense that my first book, Kona Warrior, was published recently by Ravenous Romance. I have a stack of rejection letters a couple inches thick. I could probably wallpaper my den with them if I was so inclined.

    For every fifty no’s you get a yes. Or so a wise college professor once told me. It doesn’t matter I was taking a musical theatre class at the time, I think the adage holds true for the writing world as well as the theatrical one.



    The written word has held me captive from an early age. You all know what I mean. I’m talking the "bad poetry in the kitchen" phrase. We’ve all been there. I didn’t seriously start to write in the “I want to make this my career” sense until about my mid-twenties. While tolling away as a salesgirl in a department store, I bought a book called Write and Sell Your First Novel and a copy of The Writer’s Market. I was ready. I was prepared. I was going to write the next bestseller. I would be the next Stephen King or Tom Clancy. Boy was I in for a wake-up call.
    I wrote and submitted, submitted and wrote, off and on for the next year and a half. The rejection letters kept piling up until I realized a very important thing---my writing was dull. I don’t mean dull in the style, simply the genre I had thrust myself into was not conducive to who I am. I was not being true to myself or my craft. This is when I discovered paranormal romance.
    I devoured paranormal from the minute I picked up my first Christine Feehan book. Until one scorching hot summer’s day---I live in Las Vegas, it’s like living on the sun---I was standing in Borders and looked up to see vampire romances as far as the eye can see. Row and upon row of Tortured Gothic Vamps and the slayers who love them, and not a single Greek God or Aztec princess among them. I was annoyed. Ms. Feehan, while in my opinion a good storyteller, had started to get a little redundant. I wanted something new. With some many amazing cultures in this world you'd think publishing would branch out. So I decided I would write my own paranormal. And I did write one, a tremendously bad Banshee story that is now locked in a vault safe from human eyes lest readers be turned into stone. That book cratered around the time I took a trip with my family to the Big Island of Hawaii. There I found what I need to kick start my true writing path. Two helpful items in particular come to mind, the beauty of our fiftieth state and Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Warren Beckwith.

    Beckwith’s book is the definitive collection of Hawaiian myth. For a long time it was the only written record of many of the tales of Pele, Lono, and the other gods. With good old Martha by my side and a view of Kilauea, came the idea for Kona Warrior.

    As I wrote about the ancient Hawaiian tradition, I came to respect Hawaii and it culture heritage more and more each day. Hawaii myth is an oral tradition passed down by generation to generation. However much of that was done in secret as the Christian Missionaries who first came to the islands forbade the telling of pagan stories. Also the hula was outlawed. Hula was one way the native Hawaiians told stories.

    I submitted the completed novel to several big publishing houses and luckily some nice intern had slipped a note onto the usual form letter rejections. My problem you see was not my manuscript, but my synopsis and query letter. You see I was dull again. From this I learned that not only does your novel need to sing, but your query letter and synopsis need to suck the reader in as well. Without that powerful first glimpse into your world, you will never get out of the gate. I sat down and revamped everything. Made it punchy, gave it more zip, put in more sparkle, okay I’m done with the clichés now. What I’m trying to say is look at your submission package as a whole product, not as three individual pieces. That package represents you.
    Double and triple check everything before you submit to publishers or agents. Like an actor, the product you are selling is you.

    The best advice I can give to someone trying to break into writing comes from a paperweight my mother gave me after another rejection letter hit me. It says “You haven’t failed until you give up.” Find your niche, be true to your art, and keep trying.
    For more information on Kona Warrior, go to http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/kona-warrior.php?flypage=0

    ReplyDelete