Monday, September 29, 2014

An Editor's Story...

When I started writing about eight years ago, I started at home. Alone.

I handwrote my story in a journal-like book and later spent weeks entering it into the computer. It took a long time because I couldn’t read my own writing and I had many more ideas along the way I wanted to include.

Since then, I’ve gained some friends to help me along the way. I joined National RWA and then joined my local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors, TARA, where I learned all realms of the spectrum from query letters to marketing the final product. I also joined a two-person critique group and got invaluable information and insight from them.

Since I write Romantic Suspense I joined the Just Romantic Suspense group and get newsletters and advice from them as a group and also on their loop individually.

Around this time, I was still writing at home. Alone. For want of staying connected to other people, I started copyediting for The Wild Rose Press. I received a huge book of Chicago Manual of Style and did my best to follow their guidelines. And the books, wow, I read so many good books for free it was unbelievable. It kept me busy while I was thinking about what would happen next in my own book.

I also joined the Kiss of Death chapter where I was able to virtually attend numerous classes for a nominal fee. From there I merged into Lethal Ladies, an online critique group where I sent them one of my chapters to critique and I would critique two of anyone else’s in the group. I received invaluable information from these critiques and I have virtually met so many nice people from around the world and gained so much knowledge from this group, sometimes I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

So at my TARA group about a year ago, I volunteered to be a mentor to someone who wasn’t published yet, but was working diligently to that end goal. With a full life and full time job it’s hard to make the time. So, I started meeting Connie at Panera Bread at 11 AM for the afternoon every Thursday once a week. We have become great friends and even better writing partners. I look forward to Thursdays every week.

In January 2014, Rhonda asked me if I was interested in becoming an editor. I pondered this question for a few days and decided I’d love to help new friends become authors. So far, it has been satisfying.

Also, in January of 2014, I joined Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA). I jumped in head first attending meetings, setting up and attending fundraisers, and offering creative, new ideas. I met some wonderful veterans, some from WWII and Korea as well as Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. Each veteran, each war with different elements but a commonality they shared. They were all there to protect their country and their families. I’ve met and made close friends with spouses, sons and daughters of veterans no longer with us, some just recently passed. The respect they left with their families is awe-inspiring.

I think it was two years ago when RWA held their national convention in Orlando, Florida. Since I lived less than two hours away it was a no-brainer to go. It was the first one I attended. When I registered on-line they asked for volunteers so I chose the registration desk as a thank you for the invitation. I had a great experience meeting famous and some not so famous, but all wonderful authors. I felt like I was part of the group and became less shy and less inhibited.

When RWA2014 came around, I spent the money and attended it in San Antonio, Texas and can’t tell you how much I learned about inhibitions and walking up to someone of whom you thought was a stranger. I also volunteered at the registration desk again. Everyone I met gave me so much gratification, I felt as if everyone was a friend to me, and I had helped him/her.

Since then, I’ve attended the 29th reunion of my husband’s unit in Viet Nam, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I walked by the over-run registration desk, manned by one man, so I had to ask. Did he need volunteers? “Hell yeah, I need a potty break.” So I began my 4 hours of volunteering at the busy registration desk. When a first-timer to the reunion came in, everybody stopped and applauded him for his courage to attend. I talked to the guys and their spouses, found out where they came from, what they were eating at the banquet Saturday night (had to give them the correct tickets) and where and when did they serve. Those who served the same time as my husband, I sent them to the Quartermaster store where he was volunteering. My husband met some guys he hadn’t seen in 45 years.

There are many things you can do at home. Alone. But reaching out to a person, one on one, shaking their hand, saying “I love your books,” to Jayne Anne Krentz (Amanda Quick) or “Thank you for your service,” to a veteran who had served his/her country in a foreign war zone, are not one of those.

The growth of your heart is larger, your spirit lifted, your fulfillment magnified. You feel complete and ‘one of the group,’ even in a room of strangers.

I look forward to Thursdays to write my own story and help Connie finish hers. I look forward to the bi-weekly DAV fundraisers, and the monthly meetings. I feel like I’m helping someone move forward with his or her life instead of becoming stagnant. I feel complete.


I’m still writing at home. Alone.

Donna Confer
Staff Editor
The Wild Rose Press
          

Monday, September 22, 2014

A discussion with Black Rose

As an editor with the Black Rose line, I have the opportunity to peer into the lives of some very sensual creatures. Shifters, Vampires, Demons (Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), and other paranormal creatures who by their very nature are sexy and inviting. Our readers expect sexual tension and interaction between characters, but there are some things to keep in mind as you weave your tales for the Black Rose Line.

Sex Should Happen Only Between Main Characters
Your supporting characters should support your hero and heroine. If they are running amok, having sex with each other, and overshadowing your main characters your sex scenes are going to lose their impact. Alluding to or having characters discuss their sex lives is fine, but please don’t include descriptive scenes of sex between supporting players.

If you have a hero or heroine who is highly sexual, please limit their sexual activity to their partner (or proposed partner) in the story. While we are all adults and know that sex outside of relationships occur in society, we like to see sexual activity limited to the hero and heroine. If you feel your characters are better suited to an open relationship you may want to check out our Scarlet line and see if your story is a better fit for their guidelines.  

Build Tension Slowly
Paranormal characters often ooze sexuality. Building up the sexual tension between your characters can create the perfect mood for your hero, heroine, and readers. Seeing their desire woven through the story as it grows can lead to the perfect set up for their first encounter. 

On the Page or Behind Closed Doors
Where and how your characters have sex is up to you as the writer. Paranormal readers seem to prefer descriptive scenes on the page to those behind the scenes, but you should write in a style that is comfortable to you and fits your storyline.

Moves the Story Along
Your sex scenes should add to the story and move it forward. It should be a natural progression of your hero and heroine’s relationship and not forced or gratuitous. Don’t add a sex scene simply because you think you should have one, create a scenario that naturally moves in that direction.  Sex should be just one part of the story. If you find your story has a large percentage of sex or sex is a large focus of the story’s development you may be a budding Scarlet writer. 

Too Much Description

While our Black Rose characters have a lot of sex, there are certain words and verbiage that is limited to the Scarlet line. While we want description, we also need it to be a bit milder than what is found in erotic stories. You editor will most likely point out those words that are off limits, but one way to judge their usage is to imagine saying them to your best friend. If you find yourself turning five shades of red, you may want to choose a different word.  


Lill Farrell
Black Rose Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Punctuating dialogue


I’m consistently seeing submissions with problems in punctuating dialogue. By consistently, I mean it’s rare for me to see dialogue properly punctuated. If you think this could be you, you’re in good company. Some of these manuscripts were good enough to rate an automatic contract offer. A few punctuation problems alone will not turn me off an otherwise good story. However, proper punctuation makes an awfully good impression on a reviewing editor, so today’s post is on punctuating dialogue.

DIALOGUE TAGS Most writers know how to punctuate the basic unit of dialogue using a dialogue tag, like he said. Enclose the spoken line in double quotation marks and separate the dialogue tag from the spoken line with a comma. If the dialogue tag follows the spoken line, the comma goes inside the closing quote mark.

EXAMPLE: “I’ve come to fix your satellite antenna,” she said.

If the dialogue tag comes first, the comma is right after the tag, outside the quote marks, and the final period is inside the closing quote mark.

EXAMPLE: She said, “I’ve come to fix your satellite antenna.”

If the dialogue tag interrupts the spoken line, put a comma inside the first closing quote mark and after the dialogue tag.

EXAMPLE: “I’ve come,” she said, “to fix your satellite antenna.”

ACTION TAGS Using action tags instead of dialogue tags makes a richer, more active piece of writing. Action tags link more character information to the spoken line and create pictures in the reader’s mind. Action tags can precede, follow, or interrupt the spoken line, but each of these options comes with its own problems in punctuation.

Dialogue tags use words that involve making sound, like said, asked, or replied. Action tags can show almost any action, but do not involve making sounds, so, unlike dialogue tags, action tags are not connected to the spoken line with a comma. Treat the spoken line and the action tag as two separate sentences. When the action tag precedes or follows the spoken line, separate the two with a period.

EXAMPLE: She removed her hat and gazed directly into my eyes. “I’ve come to fix your satellite antenna.”

EXAMPLE: “It’s right over there on the porch roof.” I pointed toward the veranda.

When the action tag interrupts the spoken line, that’s when punctuation can get wonky. Use emdashes to show interruption. When the spoken line and the action occur simultaneously, place the emdashes around the action tag outside the quote marks. Don’t put a comma at the end of the first section of dialogue because there’s no pause in the speech.

EXAMPLE: “It’s right over there”—I pointed toward the veranda—“on the porch roof.”

If the spoken line breaks off and then the action occurs, put the emdash at the place where the speech breaks off inside the closing quote mark. Treat the action tag as a separate sentence.

EXAMPLE: “How are you gonna—” I caught sight of her truck. “Oh, you brought your own ladder.”

If the spoken line trails off or hesitates, then resumes, show this with suspension points (ellipsis). Treat the action tag as a separate sentence.

EXAMPLE: “Are you sure you’re okay…” She hoisted the ladder off the truck. “…by yourself?”


These few examples will cover most forms of dialogue. If you can get these right, your editor will be very grateful!

Eilidh MacKenzie
Editor - The Wild Rose press

Monday, September 8, 2014

THOUGHTS FROM A COVER ARTIST

I’ve been a cover artist at the Wild Rose Press almost from the beginning, as well as an author. I know how important it is for our baby to be wrapped nicely. We have ideas in our head about what makes a good cover. We describe for the artist things like this: “The heroine has emerald green eyes, short red hair, super petite, and short, with a glimmer in her eye. She’s holding sunglasses in her right hand and has a foot on a beach ball.  Her bikini is blue. The font should be Comic Sans, in blue, with a sun reflecting off the pecks of the man behind her, who is a brunette with long hair.”

This may sound wonderful in the head of a creative author, but for a cover artist… it is a moment to cringe.  We spend hours and hours looking for something remotely close to a red head, and all we can find is long hair. Or we find them, but they are all wearing business suits. The more details wanted, the harder it is to comply. And when we can’t find it, you end up with a silhouette. 

So, here are some things to note:

Understand the right artwork is hard to find, so give lots of concepts just in case.
Simpler covers often to sell better, so think less busy.

Don’t be so specific that artists will most likely never find the exact artwork (especially for vintage books)

Find covers that you like and give us links of samples (this helps for us visual people)

Know that it’s okay to let us know about a font you like, but do not expect us to have that particular font. It will likely be similar.

Understand that matching hair, clothes, etc. is difficult, so be broader.

Find out what art website we are currently using (it changes sometimes), find artwork that you like, and give us the art numbers. If we can use them, we will.

Give us location, time of year, and tone of the story. These are the most important elements to making a cover appropriate. Fill your forms completely out. If there is something really important, don’t leave it out.

Consider your title. Often the artwork the author asks for do not match the title. This is confusing for the reader.

And lastly, remember that artists work on royalties too, and really care about the success of your book. We want it to do well.

Blessings and congratulations on your publishing endeavors!

Kim Mendoza
TWRP Cover Artist

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 somewhere...in 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!  

-- 
ELF
Editor
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?
Exactly.
None.
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!

~Nan


*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.

Lisa

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?