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!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy Birthday to The Wild Rose Press

It's a beautiful day in the Garden.

Today we turn 8.  Wow, even typing that seems impressive.  During the years, we've seen so many small presses come and go. We've grown and adapted. And to still be standing is an accomplishment. The fact that we are flourishing and are considered one of the most established secure publishing houses in our arena is a proud fact.

There are authors who have been with us since the day we first opened to submissions. We've been lucky and it's a testament to the Garden that there are editors with us now who were with us when RJ and I had only the seeds of a new "kinder and gentler" publishing house. We had a team even when the company was simply a thought or a “what if” idea. Now here we are in 2014 celebrating 8 years!  

Best Publisher of the year Award for 6 of those years, numerous Eppies and other awards. We have a reputation for excellence in publishing, solid communication and customer service and we are still a kinder and gentler publishing experience.  Nowhere else will you get the type of hands-on attention and commitment than here in the Garden and that’s something we are incredibly proud of.

So much has changed in 8 years. And we know that the publishing world continues to change. But some things will never change. Our unwavering commitment to you, our readers and our authors. We wouldn't be celebrating 8 incredible years if you hadn’t believed in us. We should all be proud today of what we have accomplished.

I hope you will find some time today to celebrate with us in our chat room.
You can find the chat link on our website 

We will be celebrating all day from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern.  Door prizes will be given out every hour. Meet a new editor or staff member every hour!

And follow us on Twitter! Watch for tweets on prizes, digital downloads and Wild Rose Press Gift Certificates.

It's our party, yours, mine, readers, authors, editors and those who are just discovering the wonderful place we call the Garden. The Wild Rose Press   

Thank you for blooming and growing every day with us.

Rhonda, RJ,  and the entire staff at The WildRosePress

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tech Talk: Chapter Breaks

Tech Talk: Chapter Breaks

Want your editor to love you? Or at the very least, make your manuscript look a bit more professional?

Learning to do chapter breaks can be fun. Okay...that might be the geek in me coming out. But really, it’s not that difficult, and if you make it a habit as you are writing your next story it’s not even time consuming.

My assumption is that we ALL use Microsoft Word when we write. (That’s because I like to haul out that old adage about ASSUME.) But really, I’m sure the Help section of whatever word processing program you use can teach you how to do page breaks--which is the key to making chapter breaks.

The nifty part about doing page breaks is that no matter how much editing or revising you do on your work, the chapter breaks will always remain at the top of the page. Not so if you use the Enter Key multiple times (sometimes up to 30 times!) to make “Chapter Six” appear at the top of the next page.

All you need do is at the end of chapter one, hit the return key once. Then insert a page break.

On the newer ribbon-style versions of Word, go to the “Insert” tab. In the first section called “Pages” you will find an icon called “Page Breaks.” Click it and Word takes you to the top of the next page. Magic!

It has been many years (more than one constitutes many, right?) since I’ve used the older icon-based version of Word, but I do have a screenshot that shows an “Insert” pull-down menu along the top bar. I’d be willing to bet that they’ve stored the page break command there.

The house preference for The Wild Rose Press is to have the chapter title aka “Chapter 2” or “Chapter Two” placed on line 6 of the page (5 blank lines) indented as a paragraph (not centered). Then we insert one blank line and the body of the text begins.

For a more detailed account (including pictures!) of this procedure and five other exciting ways to please your editor, leave your email address in the Comments section and I will send you a copy of the tutorial I send all my new authors, “Polishing Your Manuscript.” It includes both pre- and post-Word 2007 instructions.)

Free! No obligation! No credit card required! Your email address will not be used for marketing purposes. (What other disclaimers did I miss?)

Maggie Johnson - Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Monday, April 7, 2014

Driving down the road, a pothole ate my car.

To be honest, I love dangling modifiers. I even collect them. The idea of a pothole driving my car tickles me pink.

What? You don’t get it? Look closely at the title of this post. “A pothole ate my car” is fine. It has a subject, verb, direct object. It’s a classic example of personification, giving animate qualities to inanimate objects. On the other hand, “driving down the road” is an adjectival clause, but what does it describe? It’s just dangling there at the beginning of the sentence. The only thing it can describe is the pothole.  But how can a pothole drive a car?

You might think, “But isn’t it understood that ‘I’ was driving the car?” Well, no. You could get away with saying this in dialogue, because people do say things like that, but not in narrative. In narrative you need to be crystal clear. The solution is to turn the adjectival clause into an adverbial clause: “As I was driving down the road, a pothole ate my car.”

Here’s another one. “Captured around the neck, the lariat terrified the horse.” Did you know lariats had necks? Neither did I. And why would a horse be terrified of a lariat captured around its non-existent neck? The poor horse is terrified at being captured around the neck by a lariat. Or you could say, “The lariat around its neck terrified the captured horse.” 

Misplaced modifiers can be just as much fun. Er, just as confusing. A notable one came up in a description of a down and dirty street fight: “She kicked the guy in the privates wearing the Lacoste shirt.” I nearly fell out of my chair howling at the mental image of some poor peon in a Chinese sweat shop, sewing oddly shaped little shirts for Lacoste. Obviously, the guy, not his privates, was wearing a Lacoste shirt.

How about this one: “She watched the brown-haired guy with envious eyes.”  Who had the envious eyes, him or her? In this example and the one above, the solution is to keep the prepositional phrase (in the privates, with envious eyes) as close to the word it modifies as possible. This can mean simply moving it, but more often a better solution is to rewrite the whole sentence. You may lose some hilarity, but gain clarity.

Here’s a series of sentences with one word moved. See how that one word can change the meaning?

Today the man we hired to mow our lawn is sick. (He’s sick today.)
The man we hired to mow our lawn today is sick. (He’ll mow the lawn today, not tomorrow.)
The man we hired today to mow our lawn is sick. (We just hired him today, even though he’s sick.)
The man we hired to mow our lawn is sick today. (He’s sick today.)

All of these sentences are grammatically correct, yet they have different meanings. (The first and last are equivalent, of course.) All I did was move the word “today.” For another example, try replacing “today” with “only.”

Only the man we hired to mow our lawn is sick. (Not the man we hired to trim the shrubs.)
The man we hired to mow our lawn only is sick. (He’ll mow our lawn, not the neighbors’ lawn.)
The man we hired only to mow our lawn is sick. (He won’t do any other work for us.)
The man we hired to mow our lawn is sick only. (He’s not dying.)
 The last one is awkward but would work as “The man we hired to mow our lawn is only sick.” 

English is very flexible with where one can place modifiers, but that flexibility has consequences. To have your sentences say what you want them to say, make sure your modifiers are where they belong. 

Kinan Werdski, editor
The Wild Rose Press

Monday, March 24, 2014

Come Visit Lobster Cove

Many of you have heard by now of the new series Wild Rose Press is introducing.  It is truly exciting and has this place “snapping.”  Now in case you haven’t heard or have missed some of the information, I wanted to bring you up to date.  Summer vacations are coming up so what better time to write something to fit this wonderful village.  We are looking for stories 20,000 words and up.  There isn’t a deadline but we will announce one at a future date.
So what is Lobster Cove, you ask.  Well, let’s take a look.  Lobster Cove is a fictional small town on the coast of Maine, near Bar Harbor. It is quaint and quirky with a colorful history, a friendly population of charming residents, and a vibrant tourist business.  It is located off of Hulls Cove which is on the Eastern coast of Mount Desert Island (pronounced Dessert), and is shaped like lobster claws. It is on the Eastern portion of Acadia National Park, 4 or 5 miles north of Bar Harbor, on Route 3. Frenchman Bay surrounds that portion of the non-sandy coast.   12 miles from Bar Harbor to the airport at Trenton, which is on the mainland (route 3). Trenton is where you cross the bridge over to the island.
The Hulls Cove Visitor Center for the park is located at Hulls Cove.  The Park Loop Road is 27 miles, and begins there and winds around the rocky coast, past Sand Beach (the only sand beach on the ocean (on the island) to the southwest, Thunder hole and Otter Cliffs.  There are scenic walks, ocean paths along Frenchman Bay. In the middle of the park is Jordan Pond House and they serve fresh popovers and fresh squeezed lemonade.
So far Lobster Cove has found a sheriff, a paralegal, a RE agent, a researcher, a waitress, a HS principal, a nurse, a doctor, a school board chair, a HS math teacher, a whale watching vessel captain, an artist or two or three, a lawyer, a coffee house owner, a ghost, a thug, an accountant, an FBI agent, a deputy, a dungeon master, and more.  We have a diner, a lobster shack, an art gallery, a book store, and more.  We even have a serial killer and a country fair festival.  (Wondering if those are connected, aren’t you? J)  Can’t you see the town developing? 
We are looking for well-written, engaging manuscripts from across all of our lines, from historicals to contemporary. Stories can be romance or mainstream and can be sweet or erotic or anything in between.  Submissions must take place in Lobster Cove and also meet the guidelines for the individual line, including heat level and tone.
Now, if you are wondering how to submit your query for this series, the process is easy.  For authors who are already published with Wild Rose Press, the query process is the same as always.  You may query your editor about writing a story for the Lobster Cove Series. Your editor will work with you and the line’s Senior Editor, as well as the coordinator of Lobster Cove (who happens to be me) to ensure your story fits within the guidelines of Lobster Cove.
If you are new to TWRP, please submit your story using our submission guidelines. Make sure you indicate you are writing for the Lobster Cove Series. Your story will be sent to the appropriate editor who will work with the Senior Editor and the coordinator (again, me J) on the story.  You can check our website for the email address and more information on us as a whole.
To maintain continuity across the stories, a basic layout of the town and names of landmarks and streets will be created. Once stories are selected and editing has begun, changes may need to be made to the stories for continuity of character names, events, etc.  As more information about this is decided, notifications will be posted so everyone is on the same page. A yahoo loop will be created for writers serious about writing for this series. Please do not ask to join the loop if you are not serious about writing for this series.   If you would like to join the loop, please contact me.
Anyone with further questions should contact me directly at lori (at)  I will be glad to talk through the process with you.

Welcome to Lobster Cove and we hope you enjoy your stay!