Mandy's Musings

Ramblings of romance author Madeline Baker/Amanda Ashley

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Am I the only one who wants to scream with frustration whenever I make a phone call to one company or another these days? Is it even possible to dial a number and get a live person? Am I the only one who HATES talking to computers? Am I the only one who wants to scream when that stupid computer asks me a bunch of questions and then, when I finally get a live person, he asks me the VERY SAME QUESTIONS! Am I the only one who wants to tear her hair out when I’m on hold and a recorded message repeats over and over and over again?

Thank you for letting me vent.

Night's Kiss
in stores now

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


This is the cover for my next vampire romance, DESIRE AFTER DARK. I didn't like it much when I first saw it, but it's growing on me. What do you think? If you'd like to be part of my poll, just go to my website.


To Plot or Not

Plotting ~ I wish I did it, it would certainly make writing easier! But, I've never been one to do it. I usually start a story with a sentence that comes to mind and I sit down and write...beginnings, for me, are so easy, I could write them all day! I love them! Beginnings are exciting. I love the newness, the sense of discovering who the people are...but, inevitably, I come to the part where I need a plot...and it's always my downfall, and it's usually around the middle of the book. They don't call them sagging middles for nothing!

I admire writers who complain because they have to CUT words from their manuscripts. That is NEVER my problem. Most publishers want books of 100,000 words. My preferred length is 80,000. You see the problem? We generally compromise at 90,000.

Well, I'm off to work. My current work-in-progress is just over 13,000 words. I have a LONG way to go!


Friday, July 15, 2005

A PG Girl in an R-rated World

Excuse me, but I feel the need to rant! I know I’m in the minority here, but I’m so tired of reading the “f” word in books that are supposed to be romances. IMO, there is nothing remotely romantic or sexy or appealing about THAT word!!!! I don’t know why authors feel the need to use it and I don’t understand why readers (and I’m speaking as a reader here, not a writer) don’t complain. Has the use of profanity become so commonplace that we just accept it?

I don’t know about you, but none of the people I see on a daily basis use that word in conversation. I’m pretty sure my sons probably say it when they’re angry, but not in my presence or within the hearing of their wives and kids.

And that word isn’t just polluting books. It’s in practically every movie out there except for those rated G, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up there, too.

Spare me the argument that THAT word makes the story more realistic. I don’t know anyone who reads a romance because they’re realistic. I mean, come on!!!! We read romances for ESCAPE. The real world is filled with ugliness, cruelty, profanity, and a million other forms of sleaze and perversion. I don’t want to read it in my books.

Lately, I’ve stopped buying a number of my favorite authors because the love scenes are disgusting and the language, in some cases, has gone beyond the “f” word. Personally, I am not entertained by graphic violence, love scenes, or profanity.

I was talking to a group of authors the other day and one of them expressed her dismay when she read the “f” word in a book written by one of her favorite authors - an author who hadn’t used that word before. I could only nod because I knew exactly how she felt.

End of rant.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

G, PG, or R.......

If you're writing a romance, sooner or later you have to write a love scene...this comes easier to some than others. Personally, I prefer "fade to black". When my first book was being considered by an editor, they sent me a letter saying they would buy it if I would "spice up the love scenes". Still, I've always felt that my love scenes were rated PG-13. These days, with erotica everywhere, they would probably be rated G.

I guess I'm a prude. I don't like to read graphic love scenes, nor do I write them. For me, in books or real life, sex isn't a spectator sport.

An editor told me recently that the two best sellling genres at the moment are Inspirational romances and erotica. Readers seem to be drawing a line with their wallets. Since I don't write either one, I'm wondering where my books will fit in!

As readers, do you want more sex in your books, or less? I'd love to know.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What's in a Name?

Finding just the right name for characters can be a real pain in the...neck! Usually, when I start a new book, my hero and heroine are nameless, designated only by Xx. Sometimes the right name comes to me while I'm writing, sometimes I spend HOURS on the web looking at baby name sites.

Sometimes the first name I give a character changes as I come to know the character better. In my upcoming vampire book, the heroine's name was originally Bonnie, but it just didn't fit and she became Victoria.

Are names important? Think how perfectly the name Rhett Butler fits the character. It's a strong male name with a touch of arrogance. Think of Ashley Wilkes. Definitely a wimpy name for a man, in my opinion. Scarlett, of course, is the perfect name for Scarlett. She's vivacious and confident and high-spirited. If I remember right, Scarlett's original name was going to be Pansy! Then there's Melanie. Her name sounds just the way she was, gentle and sweet.

Yes, names are definitely important!


Friday, July 08, 2005

So You Want to be a Writer......

So, you’re thinking about writing a novel. Well, believe me, it ain’t as easy as it looks! The writing part is fun, the business part ain’t much! But then, there are so many fun things along the way - like seeing the cover for the first time. That’s always been a high for me. Fortunately, I’ve loved most of them, tolerated a few, and really only disliked one. I have, indeed, been blessed by the cover fairy!

There’s no right way to write. Some authors make detailed outlines. They do long questionnaires, filling in every little detail of their characters’ lives - where they were born, where they went to school, their likes and dislikes, their horoscope, etc.

Others, like me, just sit down and start writing. I often don’t have names for my characters, never a title for the book until it’s written. Most often, a line or a thought pops into my head and I type it onto the computer screen and see where it goes. Sometimes it turns into a book. Sometimes it just sits there. Sometimes for years.

Some writers have a set goal each day. A certain number of words or pages. Some sit in front of the computer whether they feel like writing or not.

I write all through the day, a little here, a little there. When I need a break, I get up and do my laundry or go shopping or read my email. I try to write a minimum of a thousand words a day, which really isn’t very much.

Some writers swear by critique groups, some avoid them like the plague. I love mine, plus there’s nothing quite like reading your work out loud to hear how the dialogue really sounds and find errors you don’t notice when you’re reading it on the computer.

Most published authors advise new ones to just write the book. Don't edit as you go along. Don't polish each page. Don't worry about punctuation and spelling. Just write the book, then go back and do all that other stuff. As every author knows, you can edit a book to death. Not only that, but every time you read your work, you'll want to change something, I guarantee it.

Be advised that writing is a waiting game. You send in a query letter. And you wait. You send in the requested manuscript. And you wait. They buy the book. And you wait - for a contract, for an advance, for a pub date, for line edits, for galley proofs, for cover proofs and, finally, to see your book on the shelf.

There’s little in life more exciting than finally seeing your book on a shelf. For me, it’s a thrill that has never diminished. It was exciting when I saw my first book in a store. It’s exciting 50 books later.

So, is it worth it? YOU BET!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Belated Happy 4th

Hi ~ Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We spent it at my son's in-law's cause we can't set off fireworks where we live and they can! It was fun. Swimming, food, fireworks, what more could you ask?

I hope you all took a moment to reflect on how very very blessed you are to live in this country, and to say a prayer for our valiant men and women in uniform. As I've said before, no matter how you feel about the war, our troops deserve our prayers and our support.

Tidbits ~ my cat is growing sooooo fast! One of my turtles is also growing very fast, the other doesn't seem to be growing at all.

I went to see Batman Returns. Definitely the best of the bunch.

Anxious to see War of the Worlds, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and still hoping to see Cinderell Man before it's gone.

If anyone out there knows where I can find a Burger King Millenium Falcon, please let me know! I can't find one anywhere.