Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Merry Nooky Hook! (#MFRWHooks)

For my second Book Hooks post, I'm going back to The Santa Drag, my holiday short story available from Amazon.

In this story, Mackenzie's an out-of-work actress who takes a job as a shopping mall Santa to pay the rent. She fools everyone with her Santa drag, until the day Joe McBride walks into the mall. Joseph Timothy McBride - the real-life, got a soap opera gig and you saw him in Scream II actor. The only guy she ever really loved. Can Mack stay in character, or is it time to strip off the red coat and peel off the beard for good?

Here are a couple of lines, giving you a sneak peek at a key moment...

The streetlight across from our house had been out for a week, so there were a lot of shadows between me and the front door. I didn’t notice the man standing by the two big rhododendrons that grew in front of our house. When he spoke, I almost had a heart attack.
“Nice work today.” The familiar voice came out of the darkness.
I froze. My feet were planted on the snow-crusted cement pavers that made a path from the driveway to the front door. I wished I could sink through them.
“I didn’t think you recognized me,” I said.

Mack could be in trouble now! If you'd like to read the rest of the story, it's available for $0.99 from Amazon. Make sure you follow the linky below to check out some other hooks!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two on Tuesday

A few years ago, I attended the Write on the Sound writers' conference. The day before the conference officially started, I participated in a pre-conference fiction workshop. It was great fun, and I got to know some pretty amazing people. Some of us kept in touch, and in the last week, two writers from that workshop published short stories. I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek at both these stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. Amanda and Diane don't know I'm doing this, but I decided to put together a quick post, showing off on their behalf.

It's a rare day that Amanda K. Byrne and I don't connect. Between email, facebook, and twitter, we give each other support, honest feedback, or a ration of shit, depending on the situation. She published Rehab last week. It's a 7000 word erotic short story, and a fantastic example of her ability to write really good naughty stuff. It's a free download... check out the links below...

An accident forces Lila into physical therapy - and onto Dean's massage table. Under his talented hands, her injuries start to heal, and sparks a desire that neither one can ignore.

Available for free from AmazonKobo, and Barnes n' Noble

I remember so clearly reading Diane Geurts' Mrs. Robinson after the WOTS workshop. The story has stayed with me because Diane's language is so clean and strong and insightful. I remember feeling panicked as I read it, as if I was on the brink of a disaster that never quite happened, and I better shut up now or I'll start giving things away. It'd be better if you checked it out for yourself...

Camilla Robinson is a formerly high-powered executive, emphasis on formerly. Now, she spends the hot summer days next to her pool, with her young daughter and Andy, one of the teenagers who lives in the neighborhood. She knows, even as she sips martinis and serves them to Andy, that her life is spiraling somewhere just out of her reach. She just can't bring herself to care, especially around the wealthy, Martha Stewart-like women who are mothers to her daughter's friends. She flirts with Andy. She puts Baileys in her morning coffee. She ruins play dates. This "long" short story is a humorous and poignant look at one woman's journey to find her way back to who she really is.
Available from Amazon

Even though I called this post Two for Tuesday, I'm going to throw in a third option for you. This is a really cool bundle from Rayne Hall. She's put together all ten of her Ten Tales anthologies (normally $0.99 each) for $2.99. I've got short stories in five of her anthologies, and they all provide a diverse look at different subgenres of paranormal fiction. Jump HERE to see her listing on Amazon. There's Ten Tales of Ghosts, and Ten Tales of Steampunk, and Ten Tales of Seers, and Ten tales of Vampires, and...

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's all about the B....

B is for Balance

That's right. It's all about the balance. See, this time of year is always crazy, and I'll tell you right now, I don't have any kind of magic formula for getting through. 

So why the blog post, then? 

Misery loves company, I guess.

There's kid stuff and family stuff and parties and shopping and decorating and why am I telling you this because you know it already. And this year, in addition to the annual holiday kerfufle, I'm desperately trying to finish edits on Aqua Follies, my semi-historic m/m romance. 

I call it semi-historic, because it's set in 1955, so not quite old enough to be a historic, but not exactly contemporary either. It's about the assistant coach of a water ballet team who comes to Seattle for the Aqua Follies, a swimming-diving-music-dance extravaganza that was a summer institution during the 1950s. The night of their first rehearsal, the trumpet player takes a solo, and our swim coach's life will never be the same. It's been lots of fun pulling from old Seattle Times headlines to build the plot, and my beta readers have good things to say about it, so that's been pretty exciting.

If only I could finish the damned thing.

I'd hoped to send Aqua Follies off to my agent by Thanksgiving. Didn't happen. Then I wanted to wrap it up by, well, last Monday.

Yeah, that didn't happen either.

Now I'm hoping it'll be out of my hands by Christmas -- and if we're lucky, into your hands sometime next year. In the meantime, I keep putting off any serious holiday preparation. Like, if I keep myself dug down deep enough in my writing cave, the rest of the world will just chill out.

Don't expect any Christmas cards from Chez Rancourt.

Getting the Christmas tree up was a huge step in a holiday direction. The image at the beginning of the post shows our actual tree. It started life as a sheet of aluminum. My husband cut the spiral with a jigsaw and tacked an LED light rope to it with zipties. He also punched holes along the edge for ornaments. My usual approach to tree decoration is the more the merrier, but with this "tree" I applied some self-discipline, limiting myself to gold and sparkly. It's not quite monochrome, but as close as I'm capable of getting.

Next think you know, I might even buy some presents.

The holiday season - with it's parties and presents and food (oh yeah, the food!) - will happen whether I'm along for the ride or not. In the interest of self-preservation, I remind myself of something Albert Einstein once said...

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Happy peddling!

BTW, what's your secret? How do you maintain your equilibrium during the holidays?

Oh, and if you've got a minute, jump HERE to my friend Elizabeth's blog, where I'm talking about why I write romance. Cheers!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hot for Friday: First Kiss

For this week's Hot for Friday post, devised by the Book Boyfriends Cafe, the task was to post a snippet from the first time the hero & heroine brushed lips. I kind of loved that idea, especially since I'll be taking part in the No Kiss Blogfest come January 2nd. It's nice to get a little kissing in ahead of time, you know?

For the purposes of this post, I decided to go with Ryan & Danielle from my contemporary romance King Stud, a  novel that's out on submission and will hopefully find a home soon. Danielle's in her early 30s, with an old house to remodel, and Ryan's a carpenter, who also happens to be her best friend's younger brother.

Her much younger brother.

That's only one of the reasons they shouldn't get together, yet here they are in Ryan's kitchen after accidentally bumping into each other in the Home Depot...

He took a long pull on the bottle and closed the laptop.  “I’m off work tomorrow. I could come by your grandmother’s house in the daylight and take a better look.”
The intensity in his eyes had her swallowing hard. “That’d be great.”
“Do you want to watch a movie or something? TV’s downstairs.”
“Sure.” But only if he picked something G-rated. Watching on-screen romance might just send her leaping into his lap.
“Throw Barnabas on the floor, babe. You look like you’re going to fall off that chair.”
The cat picked that moment to plant a paw on the small of Danielle’s back. One claw went through her sweater and dug into her skin. She jumped to her feet, hands flying. “What the hell?”
Ryan jumped up too, and swatted at Barnabas. “Git, cat.”
Barnabas jumped, squalled, and sprinted across the room.
Danielle and Ryan ended up facing each other about arm’s length apart.
“The cat…” she said.
“My roommate’s.” His gaze intent, focused, he touched her sleeve.
The room heated up, or possibly her blood was boiling from the friction between them. Her field of vision narrowed to the late-day scruff framing his mouth, and the full curve of his lower lip.
He lowered his hand to hers, interlacing their fingers.
She didn’t stop him. She curled her hand around his and her eyes slid half closed.
“C’mere.” Ryan tugged, and instead of backing away, she rocked forward, drawn to him by physics or hormones or old-fashioned need.
“Damned cat hates me,” she said, relishing his musky scent.
His free hand reached up strong and sure to cup her jaw. “Well, I like you,” he whispered.
His kiss was gentle, testing the water, giving her space to push away. He tasted malty and masculine, a flavor that could very well become an addiction. He moved closer, and then both his hands wrapped around her waist and she stretched full against him.
All of her reasons for stopping ran through her head on a continuous loop: Maeve and age and L.A. and Cherry, Maeve and age and L.A. and Cherry. He drew back so their lips were barely touching, and the scent of him and the warmth of his breath and the melting heat at the core of her body scattered those reasons like a flock of startled birds.

Jump HERE to see the list of all the bloggers playing the Hot for Friday game.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hi! Me Again!

So, um, hi! I'm back on my old Blogger blog, after several years of blogging at Liv Rancourt. At some point, I'm hoping I'll be able to munge the two together, but for now, I'm here and happy about it.

See, I love the look of my website (, but don't feel like it really fits the direction my writing has gone. When I worked with Laird to design it, I was hot and heavy into drafting Hell...The Story, the first in a proposed urban fantasy series. The website absolutely fits the vibe I wanted for Hell, and while I had the tremendous thrill of seeing the book make the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards last spring, it's still out there looking for a contract. In the meantime, I've written a contemporary romance (also on submission, also the start of a series) and have been working on an m/m romance set in 1955 Seattle.

Not many sugar skulls in either of those novels.

I made the decision to resuscitate my blogger blog because it gives me more flexibility. I can change the look whenever I want, and it's easier for me to tweak the layout and what's happening in the sidebars. I can't promise that I'll turn into a blogging maniac, but I swear part of the reason I've been so irregular is I didn't feel like the look of the other blog matched what was going on in my head.

I'm going to stick to what I like about blogging: weekly memes with snippets & excerpts, funny family stories, blog hops, and general goofing around. I might throw in some ideas about craft every so often, and I'm hoping to have at least a couple interview guests every month. I'll also keep blogging with the Spellbound Scribes, and do an occasional post for Femina Aequalitas. I'm also very excited to be involved with a new blogging project, Relentless Writers. This is a blog that grew out of group of writers who'd teamed up to survive NaNoWriMo last month, and while the first post is still to come, there are some strong, diverse voices involved, and I look for good things from them.

Funny, I didn't expect to have so much to say. There's more going on that I'd thought, and I hope you'll hang in there with me. I so appreciate those of you who have read my stuff & written reviews & shared my links & tweets. Thank you so much! You've made the last few years a ton of fun, and I'm looking forward to this new stage in my journey.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Thanks For Visiting...

I'm very glad you came!
However, a while ago I changed formats, and my blog is now at:
Please make the jump and join me there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to Find The WRITE Critique Partner or Group

My name is Sheryl Hoyt and I was recently featured in the December 10th issue of Time Magazine in the article “The 99¢ Best Seller” by Andrew Rice. It was an amazing adventure that I was very happy to share with my good friend and critique partner, Deborah Schneider, who is also featured in the article. We’ve been together for over 20 years and I can’t think of anyone I would rather be on this journey with.

If you had asked me twenty years ago, when I first went looking for a critique group if this would end up being one of the most important decisions of my writing career, I would have laughed and then maybe cried. Criticism of your work is not a fun thing to contemplate, but living in a bubble isn’t going to help you master your craft either. You must find someone— other than your mom or significant other— to read your work and make honest, helpful comments.

My story goes like this. Once upon a time, I joined a writer’s group who met monthly to discuss the craft, and the speaker that night talked about finding a critique group and encouraged the 20 or so attendees to form a few amongst ourselves. I can’t remember if it was Deb (Deborah Schneider aka Sibelle Stone) or me who raised their hand first and said, ‘I would like to join a group, but I live in North Bend’. The other one of us said, ‘I live there too’, and it was the beginning of a great friendship. Of course, we didn’t know it at the time. Two more people asked if they could join us, and back then we figured, sure the more the merrier, but whoever joined us, would have to meet on our terms because of how far away we lived from the city. They agreed and the group decided on terms, like how many chapters we’d exchange, how often we’d meet and where to meet.

Note: This was 20 years ago, so there are many online options available now. It’s probably what I would do if I was seeking a critique partner today. But whether you are cyber critiquing or in person, this is all still relevant. 

 Fast forward: feelings are hurt, people are no-shows, the group disintegrates and it’s just Deb and I left. We probably repeated this cycle another three or four times, adding and then losing new writers. There were various reasons and some lessons learned. We’re very lucky to have stuck together all these years and have a great working relationship. Looking back I can see some things we could have done to get there sooner.

Two people are enough for a critique group: For some reason we had it in our heads that a group was more than two. But why try to fix it if it ain’t broken? What we found was that we had the same goals and wrote at about the pace. We both simply needed someone who liked our writing to read our chapters and honestly comment on what was working and what wasn’t. To point out the really good stuff, so we’d do more of that, and also point out where we had some bad habits we needed to clean up. For instance, I love the word THAT, and Deb hates introspection. She used a red pen on my THATs and I marked up her manuscript with ‘what is he/she feeling?’ notes. We are both more aware now and our writing improves with each book.

Don’t try to critique a genre that you don’t like to read: This was one of the earliest mistakes we made when forming a group. We had a guy who may have been a great writer, but it wouldn’t have been a book that I would ever have picked up to read. So being forced to read his chapters and comment was like getting a root canal without Novocain.

Make sure everyone is giving and receiving: We had one gal who is now a multi-published author selling tons of books, who wrote like a demon. What I mean is she could pound out a novel in the time it took me and Deb to write a chapter. We simply couldn’t keep up with her requests to read and we basically become her editors. On the flip side, she was unwilling say anything bad about our books, not understanding we did actually want to know her opinion. Another gal we worked with just showed up to talk about recipes and scrapbooking. I’m not sure if she ever even wrote a book?

All critique should be honest and constructive: Notice I’ve bolded constructive. We had one critique member who would simply tell you all the stuff she didn’t like about your writing.  Which is fine, please be honest. If I wanted someone to love on my book, I would have given it to my mom! But we are all writers here, so please tell me what you would have done differently or at least tell me why you don’t like it. That is what you showed up for in the end.

Don’t take any of it personally: This is the #1 most important piece of advice you should take away from this blog. Just take a deep breath, and look at the comments you’ll receive objectively, as if you didn’t write those chapters. As if  you’re just there doing this as a favor for a friend. You know, like you see on TV when the guy walks into the therapist’s office and says, ‘I have this friend and he’s got this problem...’ And guess what, if you don’t agree with the critique, you can ignore it. But do pause, think about it, maybe come back to it later and look at it from a new perspective. If you have picked the right critique partner/group, you will see the merit of any comments they have, or at least be aware of why you disagree. You may even decide to tweak other parts of your work in order to change their mind. It should all be useful to you and your craft.
The critique process also prepares you for the real world. You’ll always have people who don’t like your writing, it’s inevitable. Every bestselling author I’ve ever heard speak tells the same story about letters from fans and fanatics. One file folder for ‘likes’ and one for ‘not so much’.
So lift up your chin and go out into the world and seek criticism! It will make you a better writer, and a stronger person. 

Bio: Sheryl Hoyt was born and lives in the Seattle, WA area. She resides in the beautiful Cascade foothills with her high school sweetheart and their cats. A business professional by day, Sheryl has been writing novels in her free time for over 20 years. A lover of all things historical, she enjoys research and travel in order to expand her knowledge and add authenticity to her stories.

Links to my stuff

 Dangerous Heart   available on Amazon  
Heaven Made    available on Amazon
The Scoundrel and the Saint     available on Amazon

Dangerous Heart  on
Posted March 22, 2012
4 Stars: Very interesting story.. Could not put it down!

The Scoundrel and the Saint on
Posted May 11, 2012
5 Stars: Very romantic
Loved it! Loved it! Really feel like i knew the characters. Excellent writing! I want me a Brand! Must buy!

Dangerous Heart  on
By Erin W.
Format:Kindle Edition
4 Stars: I really enjoyed how this book is not just your typical historical romance. The characters have problems and issues that are just as relevant today. I enjoyed going along on their adventures.