Won’t You Join Us?

Pickup Lines

Want to break free of your comfort zone? The KickAss Chicks are hosting an online seminar directed toward writers at every stage of their careers. The four-hour seminar on March 2, 2016 will be led by Penny Barber, and Editor with Lyrical Press. She’ll walk us through how to write an opening scene guaranteed to make readers pick up their books. You can find more information here.
We do hope you will join us.


Penny Barber

Course Description:

Imagine you’re at a party full of people you’ve never met. Mr. Bookman is working the crowd, going from person to person and introducing himself. He approaches you and strikes up a conversation. The first few words out of his mouth determine if you politely excuse yourself, run for the nearest exit, or are intrigued enough to engage with a possible new friend.

If Mr. Bookman, talks about the weather, meh, you may give him a few more minutes. Or you may very well excuse yourself and go see what everyone in the corner is laughing about.

***Remember you’ve never met Mr. Bookman before.***

Let’s say he stalks over and starts railing about his ex, whom you also don’t know. Is that within your comfort zone?

He reveals a lot about himself if he’s nitpicking, name-calling and making fun of the size, features, clothing, and life choices of everyone in attendance who you haven’t had time or opportunity to judge for yourself. Is this a person you want to spend a few hours with?

Mr. Bookman saunters up and shares every detail of how he woke up, showered, and ate breakfast this morning. Do you care what kind of shampoo he uses or how many swipes it took to clean his man bits?

If he stands next to you and thinks aloud, how many minutes will pass before you bolt?

What if he and Ms. Magazine corner you, and without even introducing her or himself to you, they carry on a conversation about people and places you’re unfamiliar with, and a situation you don’t have any context to understand?

Imagine Mr. Bookman looks good, introduces himself, and engages you with an interesting problem. But the longer he talks, the more his rough edges show through. He uses so many words to say anything, that by the end of each sentence, you’ve forgotten the point. Maybe he uses the wrong word often or mispronounces so many words you’re silently correcting him instead of following along. He pauses in awkward spots or has booboos you can’t stop staring at and wondering about more than what he’s saying. How long will you stay engaged if he keeps tossing out words and terms you don’t know?

Friends, relatives, critique groups, and beta readers are wonderful. Some of them can actually be trusted to say, hey, this makes no sense, your heroine is judgmental and hateful, I fell asleep in the middle of the third para, or all those em dashes are distracting me from the story. Many of them, though, are loathe to hurt your feelings or make you mad, don’t speak up when the material just isn’t their cup of tea, or maybe fear retribution when you read their stuff. Or, they simply can’t pinpoint why they aren’t enjoying the read.

Someone who reads for a living can spot flaky pick-up lines by the end of page one, and often in the first para. They may not tell you why they weren’t engaged, but they’ll know. In this workshop, I’m offering to evaluate your first 150 words. I’ll share what first impression your book’s pick up lines made on me and specific reasons if I met it at a bookstore I would pick it up or keep looking.

Without insight into why readers may or may not be picking up your book, you can’t do anything about it. If you know, maybe you can.

But remember I am one imperfect reader, with one opinion. I’m not always right, nor do I always have the perfect solution, but I may be able to point you in a direction that works for your story. And I’m not afraid you might trash my next chapter in the critique queue. *wink*

If you can’t make it the day of the workshop, feel free to post 150 words of your opening up to a week early.

Take Me If You Dare by Nina Crespo

Take Me If You Dare3Those who know me understand that I usually gravitate toward paranormal, urban fantasy or historical when it comes to reading (and writing, for that matter). But every now and then, I like a good contemporary with an edge of sexy, danger, or both. In Nina Crespo’s TAKE ME IF YOU DARE (Entangled Brazen), Jasmine is the sexy, but Ethan is the “both.”

The story starts off in a bar where Jasmine is planning to implement her best friend’s crazy birthday dare, to pick up a guy for a one-night stand. Still nursing wounds from a nasty break-up, Jasmine’s bestie wants only to get her mind off the cheating douchebag who dumped her. After a night of rejecting a string of cheesy dudes with even cheesier pick-up lines, Jasmine is ready to give up when in steps security specialist Ethan Worth. Yummmmm! Hot chemistry doesn’t even cover it.

But after a night of scintillating sex and a deeper connection she isn’t ready to acknowledge, Jasmine flees the scene, expecting to never see him again. But fate has other plans…

Take Me If You Dare1

I absolutely loved this novella. I haven’t read Jasmine’s best friend’s story, NAUGHTY LITTLE WISHES yet, but it’s at the top of my TBR list. At only .99, you can’t go wrong. Looking for a quick sexy read with a rough and ready alpha male? Check this one out!  Nina also has a some paranormals out. I’ve read THANE’S REDEMPTION, and it’s awesome.

Take Me If You Dare2

Where to find Nina and her other books:

Amazon Page




Other titles by Nina Crespo:

Dirty Little Wishesnina book2nina book1

Honorary Chick – Esi Sogah

Pops Sogah 1Can we get a KickAss round of applause on this one, as we welcome Senior Editor for Kensington Publishing Corporation, acquiring for Kensington and the Zebra, Lyrical and Dafina imprints. Say hello to Esi Sogah. For her sins, Esi is also my editor on the Willow Park Romance series. I think she needs another round of applause, just for putting up with me.

Esi, tell us a little about yourself.

I was born…OK we can skip ahead. I’ve been in publishing for about a decade(!) now, beginning my career at Avon Books. There I worked mainly on historical and paranormal romances, and helped spearhead the launch of Avon Impulse. In 2014, I joined the Kensington publishing family, working on romance (mainly contemporary), mystery, and fiction. I’m a huge theater buff and a recovering TV addict. I’ve never learned how to say no to potatoes and I hope I never will.

What are the top three mistakes authors make in writing and submitting their work?

Too much exposition—I know you hear this all the time, but nothing will drag the pace of a book down more than too much exposition. More subtly, stating a character’s emotions but not showing them play out. It keeps your reader at a distance and if that emotional connection isn’t there, the book isn’t going to work for them.

Lack of research—look into the house and the editor you’re submitting to. Make sure your work is something that fits with what they’re doing. If you can’t tell, that doesn’t mean don’t submit, but don’t say “I hear you’re looking for YA” if you have no idea if that’s true.

Ground your characters in reality—even it a choice advances your plot, make sure it’s something a character (especially your heroine) would actually do in real life. So if you’ve got a romantic suspense novel about a stalker, the heroine shouldn’t be okay with having a virtual stranger in her home just because you and your readers know that he’s the hero.

Now for some fun! Rapid Fire Questions:

Favorite Things: Candy, Musicals, Naps
Pet Peeves: Slow walkers (true this, she route marched me around NYC recently), writing that’s in love with itself
Addictions: Candy, Musicals, Naps J Also British TV mysteries

Kick Ass Superpower: Making people laugh at inappropriate times

Your best book boyfriend:

  • For the night: Sebastian from Lord of Scoundrels or Colin Bridgerton from Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (or, in the immortal words of the internet, why not both?) – I’m with Esi on this, why not both?
  • For a dirty weekend: Silas Smith (Blood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper)
  • To have and to hold: Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

Thanks so much to Esi for being with us today. Any questions for her, please post in the comment section and we’ll give her a nudge to get back to you.


3D Waking the DragonHi, everyone! This Tuesday, June 9th, is my book birthday. Whoohoo! Book one in my Vale of Stars series, WAKING THE DRAGON, will be hitting the shelves. I have a full book tour of stops with interviews, excerpts, guest posts, and a giveaway lined up through Bewitching Book Tours. You can find the full schedule of the book tour at my website HERE. Hope to see you along the way!


The Gladium Province is on the verge of civil unrest as humans and Morgons, the dragon-hybrid race, clash once more. But amid disorder can also arise passion.

When the bodies of three human women are discovered in Morgon territory—with the DNA of several Morgon men on the victims—it’s just a matter of time before civil unrest hits the Province. But for ambitious reporter Moira Cade, it’s more than just a story, and it may mean risking her own life.

Descending into the dark underworld of Morgon society, Moira is paired with Kol Moonring, Captain of the Morgon Guard, for her protection. Fiercely independent, Moira bristles at his dominance, and defies his will at every turn. Yet resistance proves futile when passion flares between them, awakening powerful emotions within both, body and soul. But as the killings continue, can their fiery newfound bond survive an even greater evil—one that threatens all of humanity, Morgonkind, and Moira’s very soul?…

WTD Teaser4


Honorary Chick Corinne DeMaagd

corinneI am privileged and honored to introduce today’s Honorary Chick–Corinne DeMaagd. She happens to be one of my favorite people in the world as well as a freaking fantastic editor. I’m not the only one who has publicly stated how much her ninja editing skills have honed my writing craft. As editor for Lyrical Press/Kensington, we have worked together on four projects, and each time I’ve learned something new to add to my repertoire of “do’s and don’ts.” However, she’s not simply my editor, but also my friend (and even my counselor a time or two). I can’t say enough about this amazing lady. Without further ado, here’s a seriously kickass chick–Corinne DeMaagd…

Tell us a little about yourself and why/how you took the path of editor.

Academically, I have a BA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Oh, it’s a hot spot for creatives all right. Ha! Not really, I just went where a friend did. I sucked back then. I should have reached higher. I made up for it with a MPHIL (UK equivalent of an MFA) in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling in Scotland. Between then and now I held down loads of different jobs in the publishing industry from DTP to editing to project management. Then I started having kids and stepped out of the office. I was doing some freelance editing in Australia (where I lived) and the author I was working with challenged me to write a book, too. I met her challenge and got my story published with Lyrical, a small press at the time. While in the author loop, I noticed they were looking for editors, so I took their editing test and voila! I was on board. My learning curve in those first years was higher than high but I had, and still have, some awesome supportive colleagues. Now, I have a great roster of authors. They are my joy. Honestly. Between them and the indie authors I work with, I am more than busy.

What are the top three mistakes authors make in writing and submitting their work?

  1. Follow the submission guidelines. Or if a direct sub call, whatever the editor requests. Often, in Submittable, we get subs without a synopsis, or manuscripts under or over the acceptable word count. Cover letters and manuscripts missing author information. If you follow the directions, this immediately shows you are professional and courteous. If you can’t take the time to read, understand, and follow our submission guidelines, than there is a good chance you’re not an author we want to work with.
  2. So that’s the first step above. That will get you in and an editor reading your work. The next stopper is poor craft and construction. Take classes, work with writing groups and critique partners, and practice! Don’t send in your first draft. Work hard, clean it up, be proud of what you send us!
  3. If one editor declines, don’t try to send to another editor of the same press/publisher. That’s sneaky and dodgy. Yes, editors all have different preferences, and we may even shift a book over to another editor if we think it might suit them better, but if not, take the rejection with dignity and move ahead. Something is a better fit for you out there.

Now for some fun! Rapid Fire Questions:

Favorite Things: My boys, my books, my very big glass of wine. Springtime in Michigan. Hallelujah!

Pet Peeves: People who are late. I’m a working mother with two boys, chaos everywhere, and I can still make things on time.

Addictions: Many. I have that type of personality. Which is a bugger, really.

Kick Ass Superpower: Uhh… I wouldn’t say commas. LOL I’m always asking Miss Penny for advice. Commas are fickle creatures. Perhaps my superpower is I can edit in insane conditions. I work from home so no screaming, fighting, tantrums, cartoons, telly noise, snack demands, kids crawling on lap, nappie changes, dog barking, vomiting or otherwise can distract me from your words.

Your best book boyfriend: Argh, this one is way too hard. I’ve read too many good books and have found way too many sexy heroes, many of them in the books of my authors.

  • For the night: Jack Reacher (but not after the Tom Cruise portrayal. I was absolutely in lust with the man until the movie came out)
  • For a dirty weekend: Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables? LMAO. Hey, he might have it in him.
  • To have and to hold: Mr. Darcy, of course.

Honorary Chick Michelle Forde

Hi everyone. I’m Gemma and it’s my turn to introduce you to our honorary KickAss Chick.

Today we’re honored to have the fabulous Lyrical Press Communications and Marketing Manager, Michelle Forde as our Honorary Chick this week. Michelle is more than just a publicist. She juggles many functions, a1962841_619182684816749_154249793_nssists with the social media outreach for the imprint, and does all of that while working with a huge number of authors, which I’m sure some days seems a bit like herding cats. And she keeps her fingers on the pulse of the publishing industry and the movers and shakers who can help build a writer’s career. She does all of that while maintaining professionalism and a witty sense of humor. For these reasons, we are delighted to proclaim Michelle as an Honorary Chick.

Can you please describe what your typical day looks like:

Hello everyone! It’s a pleasure and an honor to be an Honorary Chick! Thank you all so much ladies! To answer your first questions, I’m not even sure I have a “typical” day! Barring meetings, putting out small PR fires, and working in multiple month (and sometimes years) at once, you can find me haunting NetGalley on a daily basis. I’m also emailing authors, arranging blog tours and cover reveals, booking ads and keeping my titles updated in our marketing grids, planning for conventions/conferences, ordering PODs and bound manuscripts, and liaising with our social media specialist to make sure Lyrical authors get promoted on Kensington’s platforms.

What are the top three way authors can help publicize their titles and/or brand?

  1. Social media! I know some people aren’t fans, but Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are some of the best ways for an author to publicize themselves freely or cheaply. Giveaways and promotions are a great way to spread the word and increase your presence, but having diversified, entertaining content will be what keeps people around.
  2. Blog tours are wonderful for getting the word out to potentially hundreds and thousands of people at once. Blog tour companies can book authors for an affordable fee, sign up an impressive team of bloggers, and get the word about your book out there en masse.
  3. Ads. Paid ads are very beneficial because it gets word out beyond your usual venues and in front of the eyes of a vast amount of people you might not otherwise reach. Frequently your publisher will be looking into paid marketing, and if you’re of the mind to do some on your own steam, it’s great to coordinate with your publisher/publicist. That way everyone is working on a cohesive plan.

Now for some fun! Rapid Fire Questions:

Favorite Things: tea, wine, rainy afternoons when I don’t have to go anywhere, books – obviously!, my cats, sleeping in on weekends, dresses with pockets, cute shoes.

Pet Peeves: having to wait on people, really bad grammar, close-talkers, those people on the subway who shove in before others can even get out, misuse of the work ‘literally’, really slow walkers who take up the entire sidewalk – can you tell I’m a New Yorker?

Addictions: TV, tabletop gaming, social media, HGTV, natural hair care products, lips glosses and balms, anything that comes in sets, dresses with pockets, my phone.

Kick Ass Superpower: Teleportation! I dislike traveling immensely, even just getting on the train to work, but I love actually being places so I’d love to be able to sleep in and then just teleport anywhere. Vacations would be so much cheaper!

Your best book boyfriend:

  • For the night: Tybalt from Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series. I adore him, but we’d be incompatible in the long run so one night it is!
  • For a dirty weekend: I cannot narrow it down but it would have to be a shifter. I’m sure they all know how to have a wild weekend. Shelly Laurenston has plenty for me to choose from!
  • To have and to hold: This is tough, because I’m pretty picky, but maybe Marco from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Someone who makes sacrifices like that is bound be someone you can spend forever with. Just ask Celia!

Love her answers. Some of her favorites things are my favorite things too! As soon as she figures out that teleportation thing, I’m inviting her on a vacation. I’m just thrilled to have met her in person this week at RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas. 

Gemma Sig-1a

Honorary Chick Paige Christian

Hey y’all,
I’m Kristi and it’s my turn to honor a KickAss Chick. 
 Today I’m really excited to welcome super editor and fabulous person, Paige Christian
Paige is my editor, so clearly I’m biased. She’s patient and thoughtful. She’s great at playing the ‘what-if ‘ game and helping me work out sticky spots. Words cannot express how valuable that is, especially for a new writer like myself.
I’ve given her every reason to think I’m dimwitted.
Like using the term butt naked instead of buck naked or spell checking my MS right before I hit the send button and not noticing that I accidentally changing the word emoji to emboli.  
First impressions, folks. First impressions. 
Paige has never made me feel like anything other than a writer with talent.
To say I adore her is an understatement:-)
Thanks for coming by, Paige!
Reading a book

Photo Courtesy of Depositphoto

Tell us a little about yourself and why/how you took the path of editor.  

I approach life with a slightly warped sense of humor mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm. I’m (un)lucky enough to live in the coldest place on Earth, also known as Michigan. This means I look like a walking ad for parkas and ugly snow boots at least eight months out of every year. But, I admit, summertime in Michigan is wonderful. Best three days of the year.

Reading is one of my great passions, and my family will tell you that I never stop. They’re no longer surprised to see a book in front of me while I’m cooking, doing laundry or supervising the impromptu death matches between two children under age twelve. Becoming an editor just seemed a natural step for someone who couldn’t stop reading. It’s thrilling to have even a small part in the process of getting books in the hands of readers, and so much fun to work with amazing, creative people. My favorite part is reading a final draft, after reading and working on a project for months, and still loving the story. That’s when I know it’s great. (Okay, true confession, my favorite part is when an author thanks me. After I’ve spent months making them rewrite scenes, delete scenes, or answer a thousand “Why did they…?” questions. )

What are the top three mistakes authors make in writing and submitting their work?

1. Failing to clean up all tracked changes/editing marks. I consider it one of the best indicators of an author’s willingness to work on a project.  If the author is already too sick of the manuscript to read through it one more time, how will they survive the editing  process? Another part of this is failing to follow submission guidelines. When an author doesn’t even follow simple submission guidelines, what does that say about their investment in the book?
2. Not using a strong critique partner who can be truly honest, without fear of hurting a relationship, (in other words, don’t rely on mom or a BFF.) A knowledgeable critique partner with the ability to be honest without being brutal can be an excellent tool to help an author develop their craft.
3. Making it personal.
Now for some fun! Rapid Fire Questions:
Favorite Things: My family. Books. Movies/pictures/anything with Gerard Butler. Fuji apples. Emoticons! Warm weather and a pool. Trees and a hammock. Flowers.
Pet Peeves: Loose instead of lose. Woah instead of whoa. Your instead of You’re. The terms “mommy porn” and “bodice ripper.” Salesmen who ignore me and talk to my husband.
Addictions: Chocolate. Everything is better with chocolate. Even a 200k+ submission littered with editing markup, loose and woah is better with chocolate.
Kick Ass Superpower: I’d like to be Elasti-girl. The ability to meld my body into any shape would be fabulous—especially considering the above-mentioned chocolate addiction. 🙂
Your best book boyfriend:
For the night: It’s a bit of a throwback, but Ranger, from the early Stephanie Plum books.
For a dirty weekend: Cain, from RAISING CAIN (The Key Guardians Book 1) by Kelli Ireland. (UN)Holy hotness!
To have and to hold: Jamie Frasier, of course. From the books, though, not the show. I refuse to watch it for fear the actor cast as Jamie would forever erase the real Jamie in my brain/heart.
Isn’t she great, y’all?
Paige works for Lyrical/Kensington but also freelances. She’s totally KickAss:-)