S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Join me for "Tuesday Talks," an interview blog featuring a new author each week, beginning 11/2.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Even EXPERTS Can Get It Wrong

On the same day that a fellow author was bemoaning about the number of rejection letters he received from the submission of his manuscript, a friend emailed me with what became the perfect pick-me-up for the author. It’s a book called “The Experts Speak” and it is just the thing for those moments in life when you feel you’ll never be good enough. This book contains quotes from the so-called experts in their field… experts who turned away, rolled their eyes at and even made fun of people who went on to become some of the most famous and well-respected individuals in history.

The book itself is enjoyable, as the author documents what occurred with a cynical dry humor; but the message of the book is priceless. Even the experts miss the boat sometimes. Even the Pros don’t always know what they’re talking about. So take rejection with a grain of salt …add a lime and some tequila… and keep pursuing your dream.

I’ve included some excerpts from “The Experts Speak.” Like some of the people mentioned below, you just might have what it takes… it would be a shame to give up just because you felt the sting of rejection. What would have happened if these people called it quits…

“I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language.”
------Editor of the San Francisco Examiner, to Rudyard Kipling, 1889

“You'd better learn secretarial work or else get married.”
--------Emmeline Snively, to Marilyn Monroe, 1944

“An orgy of vulgar noise.”
--------Louis Spohr, on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, 1808

“Far too noisy, my dear Mozart. Far too many notes.”
---------Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, on "The Marriage of Figaro", 1786

“You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck.”
---------Jim Denny, Manager of "Grand Ole Opry", to Elvis Presley, 1954

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
---------H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary
---------Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say
America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” 
---------Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields'

“Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."

-------- M-G-M executive, reacting to Fred Astaire's screen test, 1928

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
----------Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

Are You GOOD Enough?!?

Let's face it, "good" is a subjective term. I may think onions taste "good" and they might make you gag. I may love 80's music while my daughter rolls her eyes and says it sounds weird. I might consider George Clooney to be the most attractive male specimen on the planet, and you may shrug him off with a wrinkle of your nose, preferring Hugh Jackman instead. Though I would be forced to argue with you on the George versus Hugh thing... the point is, what one person considers "good" doesn't make it “good” to another.

This has been a difficult lesson for me. I used to take the opinions of my family and friends to heart, thinking if they didn't like something I had written then it wasn't any good. This internal tension escalated as I started to submit my work to Agents and Publishers and receive rejection notes.

No one likes a rejection note. It's like receiving a "Dear John" letter from your boyfriend right before Prom. "Great," you cry, "now I have a dress and no one who wants to take me to the dance." At that moment, as in your writing career, you have two choices: sit at home and sob, grow bitter and eventually end up being known as the scary cat-lady who lives alone at the end of the block - OR - put your pretty dress on and ask someone else to take you to Prom.

Before my first novel, No Easy Way, was published by Vanilla Heart, I received nearly 40 rejection letters. I also received 12 industry reviews that ripped my manuscript to shreds. If I told you I didn't cry I would be lying. I sat there on the floor with my pretty prom dress and debated quitting.

"Who are you to think you could be a published author?" Insecurity asked.

I shrugged and a tear fell. "Nobody I guess," was my answer.

"Why were you stupid enough to think you could beat the odds?" Inferiority taunted.

Another tear fell and the lump grew bigger in my throat.

“Your writing isn’t good enough!” Lack of Confidence spewed. “You’ll never be good enough.”

Somewhere between acknowledging my fears and wallowing in my failures, it hit me. What does “good” really mean? Until I could define that, I decided I wasn’t ready to quit.

I got off the floor that day and ended my pity-party. I studied every review and a made a list of their suggested changes to my manuscript. I re-read every rejection letter and jotted down any positive thing mentioned and any area of needed improvement. Then, I began my journey of re-writing with a goal to become “good” in the eyes of one agent or publisher who would be willing to take me to Prom.

Six months later, Vanilla Heart asked me to the dance and I excitedly accepted.

What I hope fellow writers will learn from my experience is that when someone rejects what you have written, it isn’t because you’re not “good”… it’s because they don’t like onions or 80’s music or think George Clooney is the end-all in sensual cravings.

Be “good” at not quitting… your invitation to Prom could be in the mail … so get your dress ready. ~

PRESS RELEASE - October 2010

Suspense Novel, NO EASY WAY,
Creates Mystery and Delivers Hope -
October 2010

Author S.R.Claridge signed a contract with Vanilla Heart Publishing for the release of her
latest suspense novel, No Easy Way, available now.

AMAZON calls No Easy Way “interestingly twisted” and “skillfully woven to challenge the most seasoned sleuth.” Readers Review calls it a “highly recommended read,” stating it “tugs at your heart while taunting the mind,” which is what sets this novel apart from others in its genre. It is a well-constructed mystery with real-to-life characters and an underlying message of hope.

Nominated for the HODRW (Heart of Denver Romance Writers) Heart of Molly Award,
S.R.Claridge is grabbing the attention of both fellow writers and readers. She says her
background in theatre and psychology help her fill the pages with enough dramatic
suspense to keep readers guessing until the very end; and her life experience is what
weaves the underlying thread of hope throughout. S.R.Claridge says, “I want my readers to
feel they are right there with the characters and compel them not to give up because in life
there is no easy way, but we still have to press on.”

Like the characters in her novel, readers will find themselves unable to step away from the
story, as they will be hanging in a twisted balance of crossed lines and misunderstood
motives, all pointing to one simple truth … there is No Easy Way.

No Easy Way by S.R.Claridge is available on Amazon, B&N, OmniLit, Smashwords in
Ebook format and pre-order print edition, which will ship February 2011.

More information, video and free excerpt can be found on the publisher website: www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com/S.R.html

S.R.Claridge grew up in St.Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Lindbergh High School and furthered her education at the University of Missouri, Columbia with a Bachelors degree. She now lives in Broomfield, Colorado with her husband, two children and dog named Gigi. She is currently working on a series of suspense novels and is available for comment at 303-926-8877 or 913-488-4557 or via email at authorsrclaridge@gmail.com

                  # # #

Basic 4 Step Marketing Madness

Marketing Tip #1: Use Your E-mail Signature.
All e-mail providers allow a signature to be attached to e-mails. This signature can be one of your best marketing tactics. Every e-mail you send automatically becomes a marketing event.
What should be in your signature?
Your penname, your e-mail address, your website address, your latest novels and where you can buy them on-line.
Always type out website addresses in full (for example: www.nadiabrown.com) as many news groups strip out more subtle links.

Marketing Tip #2: Send A Press Release.
There are many on-line press release distributors that are simple and quick to use. http://www.free-press-release.com/, for example, will distribute your announcements globally or regionally for free.
When should you send a press release?
Whenever there is something of note that you feel the press would be interested in. Won an award? Send a press release. Published a book? Send a press release.

Marketing Tip #3: Keep Your Website Updated.
The landing or front page of your website should be all about you, your latest publication, your latest appearances. Keep it updated and fresh so fans visit often.
Don’t have a website?
www.webs.com will give you, as a published author, a web presence for free. The same rules apply. Keep your profile current with links to reviews and interviews.(Note: Websites should be submitted to search engines, Google, Yahoo, etc.)

Marketing Tip #4: Consider Guest Blogging.
Bloggers are constantly on the look out for new content and material. Offer information, interviews and even a guest blog post for free to these new media sources. Bloggers, although often casual in writing style, are no longer small time. Many have thousands of daily readers. Daily readers that could be buying and reading your books.

Following only these 4 marketing tips will increase book sales.

The Terror of the Genre Error

So here I am face-to-face with a Literary Agent, and I’m given 3 minutes to pitch my next novel. I begin by telling her it’s a Romantic Suspense story and move head-on into a couple sentence synopsis. Before the first sentence is all the way out of my mouth, she stops me.

“I thought you said this was romance,” she stated.

“Romantic Suspense,” I clarified.

“Is there one hero and one heroine and they live happily-ever-after?” She asked.

“Um…well…” I stuttered, “No.”

“Then it’s not Romance,” she stated flatly.

As our conversation progressed, I discovered I don’t write Romantic Suspense novels after all, I write Mystery novels.

So, to help you avoid the same embarrassing encounter I had during my one shot to impress an Agent, here is a breakdown of Genre with a detailed description of each.  (I borrowed these descriptions from AgentQuery.com)


Chick Lit:
Chick lit describes its intended readership as much as its story’s content. Chick lit often has light-hearted, amusing tales of dating woes, career foibles, and personal antics as they relate to the problems of average female 20- & 30-somethings: finding the right career, the right man, and the right attitude. The stories are usually fun, down-to-earth, quirky, and entertaining—a good beach read.

Similar to romance, the central conflict of chick lit often includes love and relationships; however, unlike romance, it is rarely rooted in pure fantastical romantic gratification. Moreover, don't confuse chick lit with women’s fiction. Like chick lit, women’s fiction often explores similar themes related to women’s struggles with men, their friends and family, or their own sense of self. Unlike chick lit, women’s fiction often delves into deeper, more serious conflicts and utilizes a more poetic literary writing style. Over the past several years, the publishing industry has seen an over-saturation of the straight chick lit market. As a result, hybrid variations, such as chick lit/mystery, chick lit/paranormal, chick lit/suspense, chick lit/power girl, have quickly become the new pink within this genre.

Manuscript Formatting Facts

Things Every Author SHOULD Know (but you’d be surprised how many don’t)

At the HODRW conference this past weekend, an Agent spoke briefly on submissions. She asked how many in the room knew the proper way to format a manuscript for submission. We all raised our hands.

She smirked, “you’d be surprised how many writers think they know, but truly have no idea.”

Worse yet is the fact that some writers ignore the hard and fast rules because they think it will make their manuscript stand out from the rest. According to this Agent, anything not adhering to the basic formatting principles is thrown in the trash without even a glance at the first page.

Here are the unbreakable rules for manuscript format:

• The font must be 12 pt. and in either Times New Roman or Courier New
• The margins on each side, top and bottom must be 1”
• The manuscript must be double-spaced
• There must be a Header on every page. In the top left hand corner of the Header should be the Title /   
   Author Name. In the top right hand corner of the Header should be the page number.
• The manuscript should be printed on copier paper only; no card stock or photo paper
• Do not use scented paper or paper with a snazzy border around it
• Do not use colored paper
• If your manuscript is being submitted via email, follow the attachment guidelines exactly
• Do not include a fancy-schmancy cover page
• Do not include smiley faces or clip art of any kind

If you’re getting ready to submit to an Agent or Editor, give your manuscript another glance-over and make sure you have all these things in place. It could mean the difference between a spot on her desk and a straight shot to the trash. ~

Don't Be Leary of a Query

We've all heard the expression, "you don't get a second chance to make a first impression" and that could not be more true than it is in the writing industry. Your query letter can make it or break it for you. It is not only the first impression an Agent or Publisher receives of your work, it is the ONLY shot you have to make them want to read more. Your query letter is vital to your success as a published author.

The query serves two purposes: it tells the editor what you have to offer and asks if they are interested in seeing it. The query is your only chance to hook the editor on your novel, so take your time to write it well. If the editor finds your query compelling enough, he or she will request a synopsis, sample pages or the entire manuscript for further review.

Your goal in writing the query is not to brag on yourself, nor to negotiate contract terms... it is to HOOK your reader and make them want more. Though your query should be unique, and display your own style, there are some qualities every good query letter must contain:

* A "grabber" or hook sentence that makes the reader want to get her hands on the entire manuscript.

* One to three short paragraphs about your novel.

* A query letter should never exceed one typed page (formatted according to manuscript requirements of 1"margins, times new roman font, 10pt or 12pt)

* A brief paragraph about you and your publishing credentials.

* Why you're soliciting this Agent or Publisher as opposed to another.

* The length in word count of your novel.

* A sentence about your intended audience and/or a comparison to an author with a similar style.

* Include a SASE for all snail mail inquiries (otherwise you will not hear back from them)

Agents and Publishers are inundated with queries. More times than not, query letters don't make it beyond the desk of the publishing or agent assistant ... unless they are impressed. So take your time and write a query that counts.

Don't be leary of writing a query.... you CAN do it!!