Monday, August 25, 2014

The complications of obtaining a review

Ok, so you’ve sweated over writing your story, gone through the torture of edits, navigated the tricky shoals of formatting and finally have a published story.  Now to let the world know that it exists and find folks who will sing your masterpiece’s praises.  Simple, right?  Definitely NOT!

Consider that a reviewer commits at least 1-2 hours, often more like 3-4, to read and review a particular story.  Combine this with the explosion of published and self-published titles and it is no wonder that so many great titles are lacking thoughtful reviews.  A reviewer who takes the time to give a thoughtful evaluation (more than...”I liked it” or “this story was awful”) is quickly overwhelmed by requests and sadly, the joy of having a new tale to read does not necessarily compensate for the need to actually get recompensed for one’s time. 

Start by reaching out to folks who have written to you praising your work.  Politely ask whether they would be willing to write a review for you AND cross-post it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, the publisher’s site, etc.  You might also want to ask if you can quote it elsewhere in the event that you really like some of the things they say.  Some reviewers have their own blogs and are hospitable for authors to come by and visit, others charge to host or advertise.  Don’t forget to mention (particularly if you are participating in a blog tour that features reviews) that you have no issues with the reviewer writing a less than glowing review but would appreciate the opportunity to be notified if the review considers the story to be less than ‘good’.  Diplomatic requests to simply feature the title itself and post the less than complimentary review later should be considered if you are participating in a tour that is directing readers to that site.

In exchange, don’t forget to go by and visit those blogs that are featuring your work.  Vote ‘this review was helpful’ on Amazon, ‘like’ it on Goodreads or Barnes and Noble’s site and ask some of your friends or family to also vote.  That’s an easy way to thank someone for their time and hard work. 

Cross-posting can be pretty frustrating...logging into sites, dealing with the eccentricities of each one, fighting off (or at least learning to ignore) the trolls that sometimes appear, so be grateful when a reviewer is willing to cross-post a review.  Don’t forget to ask if they can put it on the publisher’s website as well (if applicable).  A thank-you note is always appreciated...and it is even more thrilling if the review is quoted your newsletter, on your blog...or...on your book itself.  Reviewers are thrilled to see their words being shared (you’re an author, you know how good it feels when someone likes what you have written!) and once you have found someone who obviously likes your work, try to keep the lines of communication open so that you can ask that person about subsequent titles.  Please remember that this is a time commitment and try to give a reviewer a copy of the title well in advance of when you want the review posted and then send a polite reminder a week or two in advance of the preferred date. 

Remember not to get into arguments with those who write critical or hurtful reviews, better to take the high road and either thank them for their opinion or ignore it completely but by all means, make sure you thank those who are willing to write a review with constructive criticism as well as those who are positive and supportive.  Above all, remember that every person has a different opinion so don’t obsess over what is being written.  If there is something to learn, go ahead and do so, but if somebody is being malicious, ignore it, remember that there are plenty of nutty folks in the world!  

The Wild Rose Press

Monday, August 18, 2014

“And then? And then?” by Nan

Eons ago, in the dark ages of my past, a popular comedy routine had the line, “And then? And then?” It was funny, the way they did it, but now as I edit it’s not so funny when an author uses “then” repeatedly.

So many other possibilities exist for expressing the same time framing, if it needs to be expressed at all. (Sometimes it doesn’t, really, you know.

For instance:
*He jumped into the saddle and then rode off.
Leave out “then” and what difference does it make?
Other fixes for your “then” fixation could be using words like “before,” “after,” or “following,” if you feel the need to line up action in a time-sequence order:
*She patted his hand before leaving the table.
*He went to the door after he gave the book to the boy.
*After he gave the book to the boy, he went to the door.
*Following their picnic, they bathed in the stream.

Experiment with various ways of writing your sentences to avoid using the same sentence patterns and the same word choices over and over again. Thank you!


*No examples are from manuscripts I’ve seen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images.

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images. The sense of sight is overused, it’s easy to tell what the character is seeing, not so easy to tell what something feels, sounds or tastes like.

Try things like: The air tasted like pennies, tart and coppery. The monkey’s fur touched her cheek, bringing memories of Grandfather’s workshop, and the wads of used sandpaper on the floor. The air bit into her sinuses just like the Vicks Vapo Rub Mother used to glob on her chest.

How about this: Go outdoors. Stand barefoot in the grass, or on your fire escape. Close your eyes and let your senses take over. What do you hear: the rustle of daisies in the breeze? A couple arguing down on the sidewalk? What do you smell: your neighbor’s woodstove? Gasoline fumes? Breathe through your mouth. What does the air taste like: mildewy leaves? Tangy like acid rain? Is the grass damp with dew? Does the fire escape remind you of a bridge from which you’re about to fall?

Go indoors now—wait, open your eyes first.

Now, close them again and do the same as a moment ago. What do you smell: the baby’s dirty diaper in the trashcan? Do you hear the kids’ footsteps upstairs? Can you tell which kid is which by the way they run? Did you get goosebumps realizing you’d forgotten a pot on the stove?

Challenge your creativity. Everyone knows how a bakery smells, but what does it sound like?

Everyone has an idea of what war sounds like, but what does the air taste like?
Take everyday things like the rumble of your neighbor’s car on a cold morning. What visual image does it conjure from your childhood: the time you went shopping with your mother and threw up on her best coat?

Your favorite bathrobe is soft on your face, but what flavorful memory does it evoke—when you and your husband went to that B&B for your fifth anniversary and had apple pancakes for breakfast?

These are the sorts of images you should present to your readers; things they can sink their senses into; things that stimulate their memories and images. 

Cindy Davis
just released On the Hook
first in the Smith & Westen series

Monday, August 4, 2014

Playing On Pinterest

You have a Pinterest account, but are you using it for promotion.

I'm going to speak to you as an author and using Pinterest to promote your books and your brand.

First the basics. Don't upload your covers, rather "pin" them from retailers. For all images you'll use, it's a good rule to always "pin" from the internet rather than upload. You won't violate any copyrights if you are "pinning" and not uploading.

You'll start by building a board. You can "Pin" the cover from Amazon, Nook, Kobo etc. this will direct anyone who clicks on your pin to your purchase page at retailers. Another way would be to use a blog post. Put your cover, your blurb, a catchy excerpt, and at the bottom of the blog post, list all the retail links. this way you can do one "Pin" to purchase. It also gains exposure for your blog.

But what else would be a good "Pin" for this board? Where did your story take place? Let's say Times Square in New York City on New Year's Eve? Find an article on the web about what to do in Times Square. Google/Yahoo search on the best bistro in Times Square. Pin that article to your board. How about walking tours in Times Square? Anything to do with Times Square and NYC could be pinned to that board. What else could you "Pin" to your story board? What about what your characters do for a living? Is he a chef? Pin recipes you find on the net. Are they into sports? Pin their favorite sport teams. If they are into football and cooking, pin Superbowl party snacks.

The purpose of pinning is to not only build a story board for your story, but to reach "followers" who aren't necessarily looking for your book, but find you because they were looking for a recipe, a travel destination, a way to decorate their home for Christmas or how to grow tomatoes. So look at your story and pin what your characters would pin.

And build a following. Follow back, search for new people to follow. Don't just follow other authors. As you are searching the web for articles, also search Pinterest. Pin from other Pinterest accounts and begin to create connections. Unlike other social media, there is no chat or heavy interaction on Pinterest. It's a bulletin board of pictures that lead to articles of interest. So don't be scared to follow, share pins, and build an active busy collection of boards.

Questions? Leave them in a comment.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Cover Art Wild Rose Press Style

Over the course of the last year or so, we at The Wild Rose Press, have been experimenting with our own photography for our cover art.  Our first photo shoot took place in August of 2013 at our headquarters in New York.

We had four wonderful models who did their best to pose under the intense scrutiny of several of our editors.  Although the editors’ requests were sometimes a bit unusual, they were fabulous ideas.  Needless to say, it was one hilarious and yet productive adventure.  In the end we managed to capture some wonderful images, many of which are in use today. 

We hope to continue to produce more exclusive cover art from our own stock and look to our authors for ideas.  Not to knock the wonderful models and stock art that is available over the Web, but it can get pretty redundant.  Same faces, same poses…same
story?  No way! 

So what we’d like to do is to focus more on scenes and objects, and abstracts in design over the course of this year, and see what other exclusive Wild Rose Press cover art we can create.  We hope that you, our authors, will think about things we might be able to capture exclusively for your book without using the same old stock photography that’s available to everyone with all the same faces.  Help us make your cover as unique as your story.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Everything old shouldn’t be new again

There’s a trend these days for authors to take older books, revise them slightly and put a new cover on them and release them again.  I know this practice has gone on for years but lately it is even more prevalent as more and more authors jump into the self-published game.   Frankly, as a reader, I hate this practice. 

It is extremely frustrating for any reader to purchase a book that sounded promising, only to find after reading the first ten pages or so that it is extremely familiar.  A few more pages, and its confirmed that not only did you already read that book, now you paid for it twice.  I know I feel duped  and I get extremely annoyed at the author for being dishonest.

As a fellow author, I have to wonder, why  not just write something new?   Obviously, you know how to write. You’ve proven that by all the books you already have done. Every author in the world will tell you they have more ideas for stories then they could have write in a lifetime.  Why not get them out there?  Why go back in time and recreate something that was done and finished?  Is it laziness?  Or is it simply doing what everyone else is doing? 

When an author writes something new, generally readers who haven’t read that author before, will go looking for his/her older titles.  The best promotion in the world, the best way to increase sales is always to write something new and release it.  Our best-selling authors have several stories out there all the time.  We see a nice uptick in sales for an author whenever she releases a new product if she has several titles with us.  To me, that makes sense.

Older isn’t always better and everything old sometimes shouldn’t be new again.  Remember things like orange shag carpet and parachute pants?  Do we really want to go back and bring those out again?  Your older books were written when you might have been a new author, you didn’t know what you do now.  Why revisit them?  Move on.   They did what they were intended to do at the time.  Leave them in the past and write something fresh and new.  The bonus is if you pick up a new reader, he/she will go back and buy that old title anyway.  It makes good marketing sense and good career sense.  Stretch yourself as a writer, don’t fall back on what you’ve already accomplished.

You don’t want to fool your readers.  Trust me, they won’t take a chance on you again if they’ve paid for the same book twice.  So next time you are thinking you’ll just slap on a new cover and re-release something, why not think about your readers and what that means to them and give them what they really want, a brand new exciting story.

Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief
“To garden is to believe in the future”

Monday, July 7, 2014

What’s In a Name? By Masha Holl

Originally published on the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

Writing Mechanics: What’s In a Name? By Masha Holl

There's more in a name than you think. And it all depends on how you look at it.

Sometimes a character springs up all ready, clothed, in full color, and named. Sometimes, a character is a nebulous creature that needs a lot of refining, from looks to style, down to the name you will call him or her for the next weeks, months, or years, that it will take you to craft your story.

So how do you find a name? Let me tell you the ways...

I. Seven Don'ts for finding names for your characters:

1.   Don't use baby-name books for foreign or historical names. Use dictionaries and scholars as sources. In places far away and in times past, naming traditions were not like our own. Big surprise. In fact, in times past, and in to this day in some faraway places, naming is a complex ritual that must follow set patterns of great significance for the child and the adult. Not applying them properly could cause a reader to throw the book at the wall. Turn to someone who has solid knowledge of the culture you're writing about to help you with the naming.

2. Don't forget the meaning of a name. It can trigger a cascade effect that will suggest entire plot lines. Sometimes, the sound of a name is enough to satisfy a writer. Not me. I like the play with the meaning of the name. Or a pun on the origin or the sound of a name. I have a werewolf character whose name is Lucas. Why? Lupus-wolf in Latin-  sounds a lot like Lucas. I have a photographer with a last name Lucien. The name is derived from lux, which, in Latin, means light. Photographers work with light. I don't attach any deep meaning to the names, but a play on sound, on etymology, or on meaning helps me focus my character.

3. Don't rely on baby name books and web sites for the etymology of names. Few of them are put together by linguists, nor are thoroughly researched. Always double-check the information. I always look up the Russian names in baby name books, and then the French names, because I can spot mistakes very easily. I always spot very basic mistakes. I do know whereof I speak. If I can't trust the selfsame books to give me information I can verify how can I trust them to provide me with information I do not know?

4. Don't use the same initial of the same beginning sound for more than one character per story. Cathy and Carmen are too close to fit in one novel. So are Cathy and Katerina. But Cindy and Corrina are OK. Sound is more important than the actual written letter, but too many names looking alike will confuse the reader. The reader doesn't like to be confused. Better keep your character's names varied. No, it's not like real life. It's called fiction. Unless, of course, everybody else in the story is confused and it's a significant aspect of the plot. But you would have to justify it.

5.    Don't use gender-ambiguous names -- unless you do it on purpose. The name makes the character. Make sure a man's name sounds like it, too. Unless you want it to be effeminate. It's all up to you but be mindful of the effect of the name. I'm not talking fashion and passing associations between names and popular characters, but names that could be either masculine or feminine. Does Robin stand for Robert or Roberta? It can work either way.

6. Don't use first names as last names if it's going to confuse the reader. Especially if they're gender-ambiguous. Unless you're doing it on purpose. Mike Robert might look like a good name, but you're going to trip someone with it. Yourself first in all likelihood. It's not a very hard fix to change it to Mike Roberts. Or even better Robertson.

7.    Don't apply English grammar to foreign names. People spend years learning foreign languages. They will throw your book at the wall if you don't respect their hard work.

II. Seven Dos for finding names for your characters:

1.   Do recite the alphabet. The sound or shape of an initial letter might bring up the perfect name. Sound is important. It will not matter, not consciously, to your reader. But you have to like your character, and the sound of the name is part of it. Listening to it, or looking at the shape of letters as initials of a character's name is an entirely different game from reading ordinary words on a page. A big part of writing is playing mind tricks with yourself.

2. Do use good name dictionaries that provide the history and meaning of a name. Even if you don't share it with your readers, the information can help crystallize some aspect of your character's nature for you. And you'll have readers who will enjoy looking for it. Just imagine you're building a fan base. You're becoming well known for the small details. Your readers research the meaning of your character's names and how it reflects their nature, their background, or their deep dark secrets. All that can be contained in one little name. A key for you to use.

3. Do break the rules. But know the rules first. Length of name and sound combinations will affect a reader's reaction to your character. But you can only control that in your own language. And your own time. A name will sound odd to another culture regardless of your effort at making it universal. But then a reader who picks up a book by a foreign author expects strangeness, so we shouldn't worry about that. There's really only one rule to anything in writing: don't confuse the reader. And that means, make names memorable, pronounceable, and distinct.

4. Do consider the sound of a name. And the feel. And your first reaction to it. It's a good bet your reader will have a similar reaction. Need I say more?

5.    Do use other writers' ideas, even Great Writers such as Austen, Tolstoy, and Dickens. How did they pick their names? How do the names correspond to the characters? Don't be afraid to learn from the masters. Tolstoy often played on names of real people. We will never forget Austen or Dickens's heroes. Why should we avoid reading and learning from them? Why should we limit ourselves to what's on the market right now? It would be like learning to write by typing on a keyboard. What if the power went off? Shouldn't you be able to handle a simple pencil? Old fashioned never goes out of style in writing.

6. Do play with spelling -- but know what you're doing. There are variations, but there are also rules. We're back to the dictionary here. Variations on names are one thing, but creative spelling is a distracter you don't want to impose on your readers. Unless, of course, you need to do it on purpose for a specific character. But then it becomes a plot point, and that's another story altogether. A corollary of the "don't confuse your reader" rule is: "keep it simple". Which doesn't mean "keep it moronic". Streamline it. Smooth it out. Make it glide.

7.   Do make sure that the form of the name fits the genre of your story. Time, place, the vast universe... Don't give your Viking a cowboy name, or your Victorian lady a Chicago moll moniker. The same applies to the spelling of said names. And check all of it before you send it to any agent or editor. They know a lot about all of this.

If your critique partner, or group, expresses doubts about names, take it under advisement, but check the historic and linguistic accuracy of names with someone who's a specialist in the field. A graduate student. A professor. A fellow writer with an advanced degree, or proven research experience. Someone who's good at surfing the Web for tidbits of information is not necessarily a good source. Not necessarily bad, but...

Masha Holl was raised on magic tales, Russian literature, Mozart, Verdi, and French cuisine. Today, she writes romantic science fiction and fantasy---that's werewolves, spaceships, and alien universes---to the sounds of Metal Rock.  

Reprinted with permission.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Patience, Grasshopper

Patience, Grasshopper, by Ally Robertson

I know, I know, publishing a book is exciting stuff. Especially your first book. Although, as an author myself, I understand that the excitement never goes away with future books, and you're hyper anxious to get your baby out into the world. And, with each step, you want to rush, rush, rush, from edits to cover art to an approved galley. But, what we authors must understand is, in order to put the best product we can out there, we need to take our time and make sure we give it plenty of sunshine and love so it can grow into a healthy, beautiful rose. (I'm not, by any means, a gardening kind of person, but that metaphor works, right?)

Edits: Your editor has many other projects going at one time; you are not the only rose in his or her garden. So, please be patient as you wait for that first round of edits. Then, once you receive it, PLEASE do not rush through the changes and send the MS back the next day. If you don't keep your edits at least a week, and preferably two weeks, not only are you returning them earlier than your editor is planning to schedule the next round, but your editor will think you didn't take the time to really work on your story, the time required to make it shine. And, failing to do so will only result in MORE rounds of edits, therefore slowing down the very process you're trying to rush.

Cover Art: Our artists are fabulous, and they are very, very busy. Seeing a cover for the first time is probably the most exciting part of the process, other than actual release, but if you want the best cover an artist can provide, please be patient. Also, please understand that emailing your editor about the cover does no good at all. We receive the email with the preliminary cover art at the same time you do. So, we don't know a thing before that point. Filling our inbox with questions will only slow down the parts of the process we DO have control over.

Copy Edits: This is a final read to catch minor errors that you and your editor missed. The MS should be almost perfect before it gets to this step. It's very important to take your time and correct as many errors as possible before your story reaches copy edits, if you want this step to go quickly and smoothly.

Galleys: Yes, I understand, you're sick of reading your story. We're sick of reading it, too, but we want it as error-free as possible before we send it in for release. So, in order to prevent having to read it over and over, make sure that you are extremely thorough in your review. One tip I give to my authors is to read it backward—last page to first—as this will help you catch things you normally wouldn't catch, because you will be seeing the actual words that are there, rather than being caught up in the story. The better job you do of finding errors, the fewer number of times you'll have to read your galley. The ultimate responsibility of providing an error-free manuscript lies with the author. We need your stamp of approval before we can move to the final phase. But, we need to make sure you are approving a near perfect version of your MS.

And, finally, release dates. We stare at our computer, day after day, waiting until we see that email come up announcing our release date (another step your editor knows nothing about ahead of time. You receive the email at the same time he or she does). It's a very exciting process, but even when you find out your release date, there is a wait until the day actually arrives. You know how to fill that time? Work on the next book. There's no better way to get your focus off of the waiting than to become involved in a new story. And, the more you write, the better chance you have of going through this wonderful, grueling, exciting, nail-biting process all over again.

I'm speaking to myself as much as I am to any of you. Because, whether it's from an editor's standpoint or as an author, I'm also very anxious to complete each project. But I have to remind myself, Rome wasn't built in a day, haste makes waste, and patience is a virtue. (Note to self, review manuscript for clich├ęs before sending back to editor)

Ally Robertson
Editor - Crimson Line

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Fill Out a Cover Art Spec Sheet

The Wild Rose Press is one of a rare few who request input from the author regarding the cover of their book.  That said, however, although we strive to meet and exceed your expectations, without good information from you, the author, it’s a mighty difficult task.  So here are some things to consider when filling out your cover art specification sheet.

But first and most importantly on the cover art specification sheet as well as the manuscript information sheet, SAVE IT AS DRAFT while working on it.  If you lose your internet connection for even a second, you’re going to lose all the information you have put in before you submit it.

No on to the cover sheet:
  1. Be clear on the hero and heroine’s description if you want to have them on the cover.  Finding models that meet your descriptions is very difficult, but with some tweaking we are able to generally hit the mark.  But please be specific in hair color, style and length, ethnicity, and body size.
  2. Give us links to other books, not necessarily Wild Rose Press books, that have the style you want.  Dark vs light, dreamy vs stark contrasts, painted vs photographs.
  3. Mention elements that are pertinent to the story.  But don’t expect all elements to be used.  For instance, an emerald necklace is a major point in the suspense story you’ve written.   That would be an element that would work well on the cover.  But the heroine’s choice of shoes, while mentioned a time or two in order to give more insight to the reader into her personal style, is not a true element in the story, so it wouldn’t be a good candidate for the cover.
  4. When describing what you envision, be very clear, but also be aware that your ‘fabulous concept’ may not be appropriate to the market, or simply not doable.  We have many authors give very specific ideas on the layout of a cover down to the minute detail of the scene.  These types of super detailed covers are usually composites of images, and may not look quite as you had excepted.  So understand that your concept may not happen or may be altered to fit the market or reasonability in design time and availability of images.
  5. Location is extremely important if you wish for a specific scene on your cover.  New York City skyline certainly doesn’t resemble London.  So be sure to give us good information on where the story takes place if it is to be a part of the cover.
  6. Timeframe of the story is also extremely important if your story isn’t a contemporary.  Medieval is vastly different from Regency, as were the roaring 20’s to the 1940’s.  So be certain you tell us when the story takes place so contemporary imagery doesn’t appear on a non-contemporary book.
  7. Be clear in things you absolutely do not want on the cover, if you have any.  Some authors hate people on the cover.  Others hate people with their heads cutoff, and some don’t care for certain colors.  Tell us what you don’t like if you feel strongly about it.  This is usually something we can avoid with good links to the kinds of covers you like.
  8. Do NOT send us a drawn up version of your idea.  We cannot accept mockup covers since we don’t know where they originated.  We don’t want to steal another designer’s idea.  While looking at existing covers at Amazon and in our own store may seem like we’re doing just that, we do not attempt to recreate the cover examples given.  We only use them for tone and general guidance on what you like.

And most importantly remember that the artist does not read your book.  They only take the information you give them in our Wild Rose Press Cover Art Specification Sheet.  So give them as much information as possible so that they may create the best cover for your book.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Moment of Silence...

I have some sad, sad news to share with you.  There has been a death.  And I think this death will greatly affect you and your writing.  You  wonder, "Who died???"  Well fellow authors and editors, Asked is now dead.  He died from exhaustion and overuse.  We have been using poor asked far too often in our writing, and he just couldn't go on any longer.  What words can we now use in our writing since asked is dead?"


Well, in some instances, we don’t have to replace asked with anything.  Writing the question with no tags at all works well if the characters can easily be identified.  Or some authors may use an action tag.


For example, a sentence like this “So are you accepting my challenge?” A smile tugged at his lips reads much better—to me—than “So are you accepting my challenge?” he asked, as a smile tugged at this lips.


We are all creative and can come up with alternatives to the word asked.


By the way, I’ve heard reports that nice, went, that, and just aren’t doing too well, either.  They may be the next ones we have to put to rest.


Are they any words you find that you use too much and could be eliminated?



Monday, June 2, 2014

Theme By Megan Kerans

Originally published on the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

Writing Mechanics: Theme By Megan Kerans

Theme when used to its full advantage can be a powerful ally for writers and their stories, especially in a genre that has to fight for respect. As romance writers we often take a lot of grief and endure our work being called "silly, frivolous, and at worst meaningless." But, we aren't the only ones to endure these obstacles, just ask Walt Disney.

When Walt began on his first full-length, feature animation film, Snow White, in the late 1930's, the public viewed cartoons with the same descriptors I used above. As we all know, Walt changed people's opinions. One of the biggest keys to his success was incorporating strong themes into his stories.

What does Theme do?

Theme gives you three key elements

1. A base
2. Emotion for the characters & readers
3. Enriches the whole

A base
Many times plot is described as the frame or skeleton of story on top of which you add characters, goals, setting, and all the other necessary elements. If that's true, then theme is the DNA running through the bones and wood.

Whatever your theme, that universal truth comes out in your narrative. That belief shapes how you tell your story and what receives emphasis. Take Disney's Beauty and The Beast and its theme, "don't judge a book by its cover". The animators used multiple scenes to show The Beast as kind and generous, such as him feeding small birds and giving his library to Belle. And on the opposite side, we see the handsome villain Gaston being a jerk and plotting to have Belle's father committed as insane. If the story's theme had been about a young girl's search for adventure or a better life, those scenes wouldn't belong in the final film.

The same way theme guides what scenes go in a story, it also guides what roles characters play. Still looking at Beauty and the Beast and "don't judge a book by its cover", theme guides and shows the differences in your characters. The Beast is ugly on the outside, but a good person on the inside. Gaston is handsome outside, but an ugly person inside. Imagine trying to tell the same story with a cover model-looking hero?

Emotion for the characters & readers

Walt Disney said, "If I can't find a theme, I can't make a film anyone else will feel." He was right. That universal truth creates an emotional connection with your reader, the same way your characters do.
This is where the "universal" part of theme comes in. When readers can relate, they dip into and attach their own emotions. Emotion creates an attachment to not only the idea, but the characters. When the Beast is shunned for his appearance, the viewers feel his pain. They connect to him as well as the idea of not judging by looks alone.

Likewise, how a character feels about the theme, which relates to their goal, taps into their emotions and influences their actions.

Enriches the whole

Walt Disney had another belief. "Theme is a key creation of stories that endure forever, and characters that take up permanent residence in lives of filmgoers around the world." Considering fifty years or have passed since the original creation of many of Walt's fairytales and they are still as beloved today as then, he was on to something.

While characters have an external goal-to get the gold, a new job, or save the Earth-it's the lesson they learn that makes a story richer. We remember the lesson because it drew our caring. Suddenly, the tale goes from "silly" such as finding gold to something much more important.

The lack of this enrichment or important lesson by the character is most often times the reason sequels don't do well or work. The story is too focused on the external.

Imagine Beauty and The Beast if at the end of the story the only change was that the Beast became human?

What kinds of Theme are there?
 Ambition   Jealousy   Beauty   Loneliness   Betrayal   Love   Courage   Loyalty   Duty (filial piety)   Perseverance   Forgiveness   Fear   Prejudice   Freedom (Aladdin)   Suffering   Happiness   Truth   Redemption   Acceptance   True love conquers all (Sleeping Beauty)   Let your conscience be your guide (Pinocchio)   Don't judge a book by its cover (Beauty & The Beast)  

These are just a few possible themes. There are many more.
Reprinted with permission from

Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Trailers: Boost or Bust? by Diana Green

Opinions on book trailers vary. Some people tell you they're a waste of time, while others say they are "a must" for savvy authors. In my opinion, the success of book trailers depends on the quality of their design and also on the specific audience. Some people just aren't interested in watching them.

Many others, (myself included), love the combination of images, music, and text. The final product can draw viewers in, intriguing them with a multimedia experience of the story. Some authors have found that people who watch their trailer are more likely to buy the book vs those who have only read the blurb. It hooks them in a way cover copy can’t, especially those individuals who are more visual and auditory in their focus.
So, how do you go about making a good book trailer?

Between one and two minutes is usually the best length. That's long enough to catch the reader's interest, but not long enough to bore them. Pacing matters. If the text and images fly by too fast, the audience won't be able to take them in. On the other hand, having things move too slowly can make the production drag.
These decisions will depend partly on the kind of a story you're showcasing. Is it suspenseful, sweet, dramatic, or adrenaline-pumping? Pace your trailer accordingly. Also, pick music that fits the theme and setting. Be wary of soundtracks with lyrics. They can work, but often the words are distracting and compete with the text of your trailer.

You must own the rights (or have permission to use) any music or images in your trailer. There are many excellent resources for finding both. Royalty free stock image sites and royalty free music sites offer a tremendous variety, and they are a lot of fun to explore. Here are some links which you might find helpful. I-stock photos, deposit photos, big-stock photos, 300 monks music, pond 5 music.

Finally, make sure your text is clearly readable, and be sure to include information about where the book can be purchased. I generally place my website address at the end, so it will be the last thing viewers see. Hopefully that means it sticks in their minds.

You may be wondering how to put all this into action. Animoto is a fantastic tool for trailer creation. Thirty second videos are free, or you can pay $30 for an entire year of making longer videos. The process is simple and user-friendly, ending with a professional quality product. You can also use video editing software that may be on your computer.

Book trailers are a great addition to your website. They can also be distributed through You Tube, Facebook, and various book promotion sites, or provide links to them from blog posts. Here are three sample book trailers, all created with Animoto, showing what a variety of styles can be achieved.  SAMPLE TRAILER ONE, SAMPLE TRAILER TWO, and SAMPLE TRAILER THREE.

A world of possibilities opens up with book trailers. It's a unique way to get readers excited about your books, and (even better) it's fun. If you haven't tried it yet...jump in. The water is fine!

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Diana Green is a new author to The Wild Rose Press. Her fairy rose novel, Dragon Wife, will release August 15th. For more information about the Dragon Clan Trilogy and Diana’s other books, please visit

Friday, May 23, 2014

Got A Stiff Upper Lip? Try Humor by Ashantay Peters

Do you like reading humor? I do. I enjoy reading and writing humor, especially when the dialogue is witty and quick.  To me, humor is the social lubrication that allows people to coexist. Well, humor along with flirting, which is a skill that rarely appears anywhere outside the big screen or really great books. 

Unfortunately, comedic writers are not always given their due, because, well, many people think writing funny is simple. Plus, there are so many types of humor ranging from dry wit to slap stick. One person’s “funny” is another’s “not so much.”

What readers who don’t appreciate humor may not understand is that comedic writing does not differ much from drama. As with all writing, humor draws on the author’s experiences. Humor can reveal, mask, or define a character’s emotional response to conflict.

For example, sometimes I’m unsure about a character’s motivation until I grasp their comedic response to a situation.  Is my heroine telling jokes to cover her nerves at standing beside a really hot guy? Or is she flirty, confident in her sexuality?  Now I must dig deeper, because comedy has its roots in misfortune.  Shall I embarrass my heroine or show her getting over herself and growing through her fear? Fight or flight becomes laugh or leave.

Writing humor well means exposing a character’s vulnerability in a way that makes them look strong rather than weak.  That’s also true for protagonists and secondary characters.  Humor is finding the common bond that ties women (or men) together through similar or shared experiences.  The connection often has its roots in disaster, but the character’s—and (hopefully) reader’s--reaction is funny rather than reflective. 

Though, let’s face it, you often have to reflect on something before seeing the light side. Kind of like learning how to laugh at your mistakes instead of letting small errors—like finding spinach on your teeth after your blind date takes you home early--negatively influence you throughout your lifetime. Besides, if your date couldn’t tactfully tell you to check the mirror, how will he approach more difficult topics later on? I rest my case.

In the process of writing, the humorist faces conflict, reflects on it and blows raspberries in response. Reading humor allows readers the same journey, but with a smile on our face. And a heck of a lot less work!

Remember the Greek’s masks for drama and comedy? The idea is that both are flip sides of the same coin-human experience. You can choose to move through life wearing the drama face or the comedy face. Neither is better than the other; both have advantages and are appropriate at different times.

Me? I reach for a comedy every chance I get. Laughing uses less muscle power and leaves no frown lines. And a smile is the ultimate in social lubrication, saying so much without words.  So give humor a try.  All you’ve got to lose is your stiff upper lip! 

Ashantay Peters loves escaping into a well-written book. Her reading addiction also has her perusing magazines, newspapers, Internet articles and even food labels. The last is usually feebly excused as an attempt to maintain health, however. She lives in the mountains of western North Carolina, a happy transplant from the much colder (and flatter) midwest.

Death Rub Coming Soon!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Writing a Good Synopsis By Nicola Martinez

Originally Published in the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

Writing a Good Synopsis By Nicola Martinez

Writing a good short synopsis is often more difficult that writing a long, or chapter-by-chapter synopsis, so I thought it might be helpful to some, if we went over the elements of a good synopsis, as well as a brief “outline” of how to write one.


1. CONFLICT: The number one thing that must be conveyed in a synopsis--whether the synopsis is one to two pages, or a chapter by chapter--is CONFLICT. A story isn’t good without conflict, and so you must show the editor that you have woven a story rife with conflict.

2. SETTING: The editor needs to know the time and place of the novel. Be sure to include the significance of the setting, if it’s important to the story. Is there are reason you set your novel in 1850s California or could you have told the same story if you’d set it in 1850’s Louisiana?

3. MOTIVATION: Next, you must show your characters’ motivations. These are the things that shore up the conflict, and they must be believable. If your hero is a recluse and your heroine is reporter trying to get the scoop on the hero, then that sounds like great conflict BUT the reason your hero is a recluse must be believable. He can’t be a recluse solely because that is a great opposite to the reporter getting the story. And your reporter heroine can’t be dogging the hero for a story just because a reporter is a great opposite to a reclusive hero—She’s got to want the story for some fantastic reason that makes the reader want to find out what happens. Perhaps she thinks the hero is a murderer and has become reclusive just to save himself from jail, and so she vows to uncover him—to make the motivation stronger, maybe she’s related to the deceased. Then her motivation for exposing him is even greater than “just a prize- winning story.” Whatever your character’s motivations are for doing whatever it is he or she is doing in the story have to be believable. Which brings us to our next element which is

4. LOGICAL PROGRESSION: Make sure that you present your climaxes and crises in the order they appear in the manuscript. This helps show that you have a firm hold on the story and that your story weaving will build from start to conclusion, rather than being choppy and confusing. You don’t want the editor to think that you plug in a scene or conflict just when you think of it along the way—as in “BTW, the reason I’m writing this now is because this happened earlier and I forgot to tell you.” Logical progression also means showing the growth and change of character. Your broken hero can’t suddenly be fixed at the end without showing the means by which he got fixed. It’s not enough to say, “my hero doesn’t know how to love, but by the end of the story, he learns how.” You have to show what experiences are in the book that teach him how to love. And these don’t have to be bulleted points; they just have to be clearly outlined.

5. RESOLUTION: Just as you have to show the logical growth and change in the characters, you also have to convey a satisfying and believable resolution to the conflicts you’ve created. How does the recluse get over his need to separate himself?  How does the reporter come to realize that she’s tagged the wrong man solely because of her desire for vengeance? What events happen in the book that help the issues resolve?

6. FORMATTING: Once you have all your content in mind, it’s time to format and write. Your synopsis should be double spaced, with a header that clearly defines title- Synopsis in one upper corner, your name and page number (if more than one page) in the other upper corner. 1 to 1 ½ inch margins all the way around

Once you have all these things in your mind, you’ll be able to weave a provocative synopsis. “But, how do I do that?” you ask. Well, let me give you an easy formula which should help you hammer out a one to two page synopsis in no time, but first, let me say that there is no one way to write a synopsis, no magic formula. In that way it’s a lot like writing your story. The synopsis has to convey your own writing style, and so it has to be unique.

That said, I’ve found a type of formula to keep in mind so that all the necessary elements are included. If you’re writing a romance, keep in mind four words: hero, heroine, conflict, resolution. If you’re writing something like suspense, you’ll want to adjust that to: Hero, Villain, Conflict, Resolution. Or maybe Hero, Victim, Conflict, Resolution. It will depend on where your strongest characters and plot drivers are.

So: In the opening, introduce the hero (or heroine) being sure to include his motivations and emotions. Next, introduce the heroine and her motivations. After you’ve done that, introduce the conflict that is between them. It is important to note that oftentimes the conflict will be (and maybe, even should be) woven into the introductions of the hero and heroine. The conflict being more separated from these introductions usually comes in a mystery/suspense novel because the conflicts are oftentimes more external than in a romance—the murder or other crime which initially throws the hero and heroine together—but in that type of novel there are usually more internal conflicts as well, and these will be introduced while showing the hero’s and heroine’s motivations. Even in a straight romance, however, you may introduce internal conflict while talking about the hero, and then the heroine, but then, also have a paragraph which delves into some external conflicts that are included.

Lastly, describe the Conflict resolution. How does everything wrap up to reach the logical end of the story.
It may sound a little daunting, but just remember, you write a synopsis the same way you would tell your friends and family about your book: “It’s about this guy named Joe who [insert motivations here]” And then he meets this girl who [insert motivations here], but they can’t get together because {insert conflict here}but [this happens and that happens {plot progressions}] and so at the end [insert resolution]

Nicola Martinez is an award-winning author who has been writing and studying romance for decades. Nicola was a magazine and newspaper editor.