Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Saturday, December 20, 2014 by Adria in

Feel like treating yourself to something Parisian for the holiday season? Velvet Morning Press is pleased to announce that Paris, Rue des Martyrs, a novel about four strangers whose lives entwine in the neighborhood of Montmartre, is now available for preorder in ebook format. Click here to order your copy! 

The print version will be released on Jan. 5, 2015.

Paris, Rue des Martyrs, by Adria J. Cimino (co-founder of Velvet Morning Press), is about encounters that make a difference…

Four strangers in Paris. Each one is on a quest: to uncover a family secret, to grasp a new chance at love, to repair mistakes of the past. Four stories entwine, four quests become one, as their paths cross amid the beauty, squalor, animation and desolation of a street in Paris, the rue des Martyrs. 

Rafael's search for his birth mother leads him to love and grim family secrets. Cecile's view of herself as an unsatisfied housewife is radically changed by the promise of a passionate liaison. Andre, an aging actor, troubled by the arrival of the son he abandoned years ago, must make a choice, to either lose his son forever or put aside pride and seek redemption. Mira travels to Paris to begin a new life and forget about love... or so she intends. 

Four strangers, four stories, one riveting novel.

What reviewers have said about Paris, Rue des Martyrs

Adria Cimino proves a reliable narrator, guiding readers through a tangled maze, and rewards them with the realization of the interconnectedness of her characters’ lives, as well as the readers' own.” – Ivory Owl Reviews (4 Stars)

I was so riveted by this book that I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish it and read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed how complex the characters were, each one had a dramatic backstory and vastly different personalities.” – Mom's Small Victories (4 Stars)

Happy reading! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On Wednesday, December 17, 2014 by Adria in
Velvet Morning Press, The Book Wheel and authors announce a month-long writing challenge... which will be published as an anthology!

Imagine a handful of authors locked in a castle for a month with one mission: to write a short story on the theme of legacy. Who are they? Many are from The Book Wheel’s 30 Authors event. Others are previously published authors or new voices you will be delighted to discover.

What will inspire them? What's the biggest challenge? How is their writing going? Follow the #30Authors hashtag on Twitter from Jan. 9 through the end of the month and find out! And feel free to tweet with us!

So once the stories are complete, what happens? Velvet Morning Press, in collaboration with The Book Wheel, will publish the anthology “Legacy” in spring 2015. It will be available in print and ebook form. All author proceeds will benefit the charity Paws for Reading! Thank you, authors!

Allison Hiltz, founder of The Book Wheel and creator of the 30 Authors event, will write the book's preface as well as participate in the tweeting and other activities. Thanks, Allison, for joining us in this adventure!
Want a sneak peek at our contributors? Here’s the list:

Regina Calcaterra, New York Times best-selling author of Etched in Sand
Kristopher Jansma, author of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow and Ruin Falls
Marissa Stapley, author of Mating for Life
Paula Lee, author of Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat
J.J. Hensley, author of Resolve and Measure Twice
Maureen Foley, author of Women Float
Didier Quémener, contributor to anthologies That's Paris and Mystery in Mind
Stephanie Carroll, author of A White Room
David Whitehouse, author of In Search of Rwanda's Gnocidaires: French Justice and the Lost Decades
Piper Punches, author of The Waiting Room and Missing Girl
Lizzie Harwood, author of soon-to-be-released short story collection Triumph
Vicki Lesage, author of Confessions of a Paris Party Girl and Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer
Adria J. Cimino, author of Paris, Rue des Martyrs (re-release January 2015)

Watch this space for further details!

Monday, December 15, 2014

On Monday, December 15, 2014 by Vicki Lesage in
You saw our Gift Guide for Book Lovers and thought, "Wow, those would be great for my friend/spouse/dog," but then you totally forgot to buy them. You might still have time for them to arrive if you order now. Or, you can purchase an ebook and have it delivered wirelessly right away. No one has to know you waited until the last minute!

Check out our guide for some last-minute faves!

Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

Last-Minute Gifts for Books Lovers:

Married by Midnight: A Christmas Story
by Talli Roland
A light, fun holiday read from one of chick lit's greatest writers. We dare you to not get in the holiday spirit after reading this!

The Big Book of Parenting Tweets: Featuring the Most Hilarious Parents on Twitter
by Kate Hall
The holidays are hectic, especially if you have kids asking every five minutes when they can open presents. Take a break with this book of bite-sized "we've been there" nuggets of parenting funnies.

Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays
by Jill Smokler
It may feel impossible but you CAN survive the holidays. This humorous collection will make you laugh as you countdown to December 26th.

The Outlander Series 7-Book Bundle: Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone
by Diana Gabaldon
Hey there, big spender! Rather than struggle to find a bunch of small gifts, give this 7-book bundle and be done with it! It will provide hours of entertainment that your book lover is sure to thank you for.

We wish you all a happy and safe holiday season!

Friday, December 5, 2014

On Friday, December 05, 2014 by Adria in , ,

You’ve done it! With 50,000 words on the page, you have accomplished your National Novel Writing Month goal and written a novel (albeit a rough version). So now what?

I’ve already given some practical advice in an earlier post I wrote for Check it out here

If what you have written in November is indeed a first draft (rather than a rewrite of an earlier idea), then my best advice is: Favor setting it aside and editing your text to the best of your ability. Have a look at Velvet Morning Press’ tips.  

At that point, if your novel falls into the categories we publish at Velvet Morning Press, how about submitting it to us? Check out our submission guidelines

And whether you’ve reached 5,000 words or 50,000, congratulate yourself. As long as you have an idea and feel inspired to write, you’ve won!

Monday, December 1, 2014

On Monday, December 01, 2014 by Vicki Lesage in
Cyber Monday is here! So if your typing fingers aren't worn out yet, we'd like to recommend a few gifts for the book lover on your list. Or, if you're a book lover yourself, you might want to add these to your wishlist!

Gifts for Book Lovers

Six Picks for Book Lovers

The French Kitchen: 200 Recipes From the Master of French Cooking
by Michel Roux Jr.

Exquisite photos, luscious classic recipes such as Lyonnaise onion soup and the charming French chef Michel Roux Jr. Who could ask for more?

Manhattan Transfer: A Novel
by John Dos Passos

Take a step back to New York in the '20s. One of our favorite places. One of our favorite eras. Enough said.

Electric Kettle with Tea Infuser

Nothing like curling up with a cup of tea and a good book. We've added this tea brewer to our list!

French Press Coffee Maker

For coffee + books, a French press is the way to go! Crack open your book and pour yourself a cup from this gourmet coffee press, and you'll be transported to a Parisian sidewalk cafe!

Kindle Paperwhite

We love the simplicity of the Kindle Paperwhite--we have enough distractions as it is, and when we sit down to read, we just want to read! The paperwhite is a great transition for print-book-lovers into the digital world.

Kindle Paperwhite Cover

The lucky recipient of the Kindle Paperwhite (above) will want to protect it. So throw in this cover as a bonus gift! The easy part? Choosing this cover. The hard part? Choosing which color!

Happy reading, and happy holidays from Velvet Morning Press!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

On Thursday, November 20, 2014 by Adria in
So who will be writing about Paris? Velvet Morning Press is pleased to announce the list of writers contributing to our first anthology, "That's Paris."

A few clues... We have the author of three fashion books, the writer of a recently released book on Rwanda, an Amazon best-selling author, journalists, a personal chef and winners of various blogging awards. For details, check out the full author list.

Not only are our writers talented, but they also are generous. Author proceeds from anthology sales will be donated to Room to Read, a charity that partners with communities in the developing world to promote literacy and gender equality in education.

About "That's Paris"

If you've ever traveled to Paris, lived in the City of Light, or dreamed of setting foot on its cobblestoned streets, "That's Paris" is for you. From culinary treats (and disasters) to swoon-worthy romantic encounters (and heart-breaking mishaps), this collection of stories takes you on a journey through one of the most famous cites in the world. Slated for release February 2, 2015.

About Velvet Morning Press

VMP is a dynamic, indie publishing house run by authors Adria J. Cimino and Vicki Lesage. Founded in 2014, this small press aims to discover new writers as well as publish established authors in its anthology collections and other special projects.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On Monday, November 17, 2014 by Vicki Lesage in ,
*Clickety-clack-type-type* Done! Isn't it the greatest feeling when you've finished writing your book/blog post/autograph on a fan's t-shirt? All that hard work is behind you and now you can bask in the... Oh wait. Now you have to edit.

The editing process is different for everyone. It depends on your personal style, how thorough you were on your first draft, and how much persistence you have to read your work YET AGAIN. Ideally, for important pieces of work (i.e. an article or guest post), you'll have at least one other pair of eyeballs on it. For a published book, you'll want a few sets of eyes on it, preferably at least one professional.

Behind the Scenes: Book Editing
Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes / Foter / CC BY-NC

But before you get to that point, take it as far as you can yourself. That ensures that your work remains as close as possible to your tone and style, and, particularly in the cases where you're not paying someone else to review your work (unless hugs or beer count), you minimize the effort they have to put into it.

"Give me specifics, Vicki!" you're saying. OK, you've got it! Here's an inside look into my book editing process:

First Pass

I aim to write 3-5 pages per day, then re-read it every 20-30 pages. It's hard to switch back and forth between writing and editing so I don't like to do it too often, but I don't want to get too far away from what I've written before re-reading it.

On this pass, I do the following:

1. Fix any typos.

2. Fill in gaps and fix errors. For example, in one chapter of Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, I recount a doctor's appointment and by the end of the chapter, my husband is there with me, spouting out dialogue. But when I re-read it, I realized I hadn't specified that he'd gone to the appointment with me. Since my book is a memoir, he was right there in my memory so I didn't even notice that he wasn't there on the pages.

3. Check that I have the right level of description. In two of my books, I write about my life in Paris. Since I've been living here for 9 years, I can picture scenes and locations perfectly. But for my mainly American readers, they may not know what a Préfecture is or have a visual of a typical Parisian street. Sometimes just adding one sentence - "The wide tree-lined boulevard in front of my house was great for long walks, as long as you avoided the dog poop." - paints a picture of my neighborhood.

4. See if I can turn any narrative into dialogue. In my first draft, I just want to get my ideas out and since I'm writing about my own life, it ends up taking on a narrative tone. But converting some narrative to dialogue helps break up long sections and is easier for the reader to digest. It also allows my characters to be funny or slip in some description without my character going on and on herself.


First draft:
I ran into Chris and Dave, fellow expats, at the ball and we chatted over champagne. It was crazy just how small the world was!

Second draft:
"Hey there, stranger!"

I turned to see Chris and her husband, Dave. "Well, hello there! Fancy meeting you here," I said, kissing each of them on the cheek.

"We've actually run into a few other people as well. Reminds me just how small the English-speaking world in Paris is," Chris said.

"And how much we all like to drink!" Dave added. We all laughed.

"Well, we'll let you youngsters get on with it," Chris said. "Maybe we'll run into you later?"

The second version is more fun to read, provides a little characterization of Chris and Dave (they're married, they're older than me, they like to drink), and moves the scene along.

The easiest way to see if you need to convert narrative to dialogue is if you're talking about talking. Instead of "the doctor gave me the worst news possible" have the doctor actually SAY the bad news to you and show your reaction.

Second Pass

I run a search on a list of words that I know I overuse. It's tedious to search for each instance of each word, but it really pays off. Here are some of my common offenders:

"If he could just hurry up, we wouldn't be late."
"If he would hurry up, we wouldn't be late."

See? It reads just fine without "just."

think, feel
"I think it has to do with the French administration's desire to deforest the planet."
"Clearly, the French administration's sole goal is to deforest the planet."

It's your book! We know you think/feel it!

get, put, pull, take
"After the doors to the Préfecture open, you get in line and take your dossier out, naively thinking your turn is coming up soon."
"After the doors to the Préfecture open, you jump in line, whipping your dossier out of your bag with an enthusiasm that is totally uncalled for - your turn is hours from now."

Replace boring verbs with more descriptive ones that show movement or feelings.

try, start, decide
"I tried to decide which pastry to order, but there were too many choices."
"Ogling the display case in the boulangerie, I was unable to make a decision."

In the wise words of Yoda, "There is no try, only do."

"The immigration video was very boring and it was all I could do to stay awake."
"The immigration video was soul-crushingly dull, making it near impossible to stay awake."

As our beloved professor in "Dead Poets Society" taught us:

"So avoid using the word 'very' because it's lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don't use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won't do in your essays."

I won't bore you with all 40+ words on my checklist but you get the idea. In looking at my examples, you can see that by running my list I'm not just replacing "get" with "jump" - I'm forcing myself to look at the whole sentence in a new light and see which additional changes could spice it up. In many cases, my edits actually make my sentences longer and that's fine. Editing isn't just about cutting things out, it's about improving your content to convey your thoughts in the best way possible. That may mean shortening, lengthening, describing more, or adding some "punch."

Third Pass

I print it out (sorry, forests of the world) and redline anything that isn't perfect. Thanks to a tip from "Your Novel: Day by Day" by Mary Anna Evans I edit in the following order:

1. Sentence. I scrutinize each sentence and see if there's a better way to say what I'm trying to say and if there's anything I can remove.

2. Paragraph. How does each sentence fit in the paragraph? Does it flow? Should I break out the paragraph? Is one sentence really just a repetition of another? Cut it out! No need to show off your writing skills by saying the same thing two different ways - show off your editing skills by deleting one of them.

3. Section. Does the section start and end on the right tone? Does it convey everything it needs to and nothing more?

4. Chapter. How does the chapter flow? Is it clear why each section is included? Anything to add/cut/move?

Every word/sentence/paragraph/section/chapter needs to contribute to the overall story. Does it match the theme? Could it be said better? If you remove it, do you miss it? Readers don't always notice tight writing but they definitely notice when it's not done right.

Fourth Pass

This is the hardest for me because I've already read the dang thing so many times. The goal is to read beginning to end as quickly as possible and as an actual reader would. It's best if you have an ereader so you don't have to print it out again, and it's really hard to do this sitting in front of your computer.

As you're reading, you're looking for overall readability and continuity. Does one chapter stick out to you as boring? Unnecessary? Repetitive? Do you have a bunch of action-packed chapters in a row and then a few that aren't as exciting? Should you change the order? Make the dull ones more interesting? Spread out the content? Only you know the answer, but you won't even know the problem until you can look at the book as a whole.

Try to read your book in a 2-5 day timespan so that you really get the overall feel. If you're a slow reader like me, that will be hard. But you can do it!

Monday, November 10, 2014

On Monday, November 10, 2014 by Vicki Lesage in ,
Do you consider yourself a book-lover? Not just someone who likes books. Someone who talks about books, thinks about books, and of course spends most of their free time reading about books. Someone who loves books.

Does that sound like you? Well how would you like to write about books? To give our readers a little diversity, we're looking for guest posters to write about--you guessed it--books. We have a few ideas for columns (top 10 lists, outfits/gifts/recipes inspired by books, etc.) and we are open to your ideas as well.

If you'd like to be published on our site, please email us at with either your idea for an article or a finished, previously unpublished article that you think our readers will love. If accepted, your article will include a bio with links back to your website and social media and you will have the possibility of becoming an ongoing contributor.

We look forward to your submissions!

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Monday, November 03, 2014 by Adria in
It’s you against the clock. Your mission: Write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month.

Will you be victorious if you make it to the end with a couple hundred pages under your arm? It depends on your long-term goals. If you’re signing up because this sounds like a fun challenge and you have always dreamed of writing, then focus on those rules, write as much as possible and sprint toward the finish line!

The Right Way To Do NaNoWriMo
Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes / Foter / CC BY-NC

But if you are hoping to build a career as an author, another strategy will bring you a much richer victory…

So how can a writer get the most out of National Novel Writing Month?

DON’T be obsessed by word count. Put quality before quantity. Everyone is different, of course. But in my personal experience and experience working with other writers, an obsession with word count combined with a tight deadline often equals that big enemy: writer’s block! If you write a few pages of promising material that will eventually result in a quality short story or full-length novel, you will be much better off than if you produce thousands of words that fall flat.

DON’T think you must write the next Great American Novel and that it will be published by a major publishing house. I’m not saying this to be pessimistic, but to free you of unnecessary pressure. This should be a first step. Chances are, anything you produce in a short period of time will benefit greatly if you set it aside and return to it months later. In most cases, very experienced and established writers take years to produce a novel – so you’re in good company!

DON’T compare yourself to others. Sure, more than 300,000 people met the challenge last year. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t even be telling you that. After all, it isn’t important. Whether one person or one million people produce the target word count, it won’t bring you any closer to or farther from publication. Writing isn’t a team sport, but an individual activity. Compete against yourself. Strive to become a better writer than you were a few years ago. Aim to produce your best and forget about everyone else.

DO focus on what you love: writing! This is probably the best reason to sign up for the challenge. And this really applies to anyone who participates: career writers and those who view it as a hobby. We all love to write or we wouldn’t be here writing on/reading the Velvet Morning Press blog. So participating in the novel writing month should make us happy. If it doesn’t: Stop, take a break and return only when the inspiration resurfaces!

DO set aside regular writing time for yourself. Like most of you, I have to juggle writing with various other activities/work. Another great thing about National Novel Writing Month is it encourages us to set aside regular writing time. My advice is: Find a time of day or night that works best for you, commit to it and use this month to get into a routine. Ideally, you can continue this routine – or at least part of it – once the challenge is over.

I have to admit, as someone who takes months and even years to write a novel, I used to sneer at National Novel Writing Month. But my attitude has changed. I realize that there is something in the event for everyone who loves writing. In my opinion, if you truly want to build a career as an author, you will win the novel writing month challenge if you grow as a writer. And that has nothing to do with word count.

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Monday, October 27, 2014 by Vicki Lesage in
Costumes, cobwebs and candy--there are plenty of ways to get into the Halloween spirit. I, however, prefer spooky books! Below are some recommendations to chill your spine.

Spooky Halloween Book Recommendations

Anne Rice's vampire Lestat is back, with new release "Prince Lestat." And of course no list of mine would be complete without a mention of zombies (I've even managed to work them into Valentine's Day, so much is my love for these undead monsters), so I recommend picking up "The Walking Dead" graphic novels. And last but not least, Dean Koontz is always good for a check-under-the-bed-before-turning-out-the-lights thriller; Phantoms is one of my faves.

"Prince Lestat"
by Anne Rice

"The Walking Dead, Book 1"
by Robert Kirkman

by Dean Koontz

Don't forget the kids! For a cavity-free treat, indulge your little ghouls and goblins in one of these Halloween-themed children's books:

"The Little Leftover Witch"
by Florence Laughlin

"Peter Rabbit and the Pumpkin Patch"
by Beatrix Potter

"Only a Witch Can Fly"
by Alison McGhee

And in a category all their own, we have spooky parodies from author Michael Teitelbaum and illustrator Jon Apple:

"The Very Thirsty Vampire"
by Michael Teitelbaum

"The Very Hungry Zombie"
by Michael Teitelbaum

Happy Halloween, fellow book-lovers!