Monday, March 31, 2008
In case you are unfamiliar with this favorite of fiction writers, the em-dash—often typed as two hyphens next to each other—is used to set off parenthetical information, as I did in this sentence, or to indicate a break in—
What? Mommy’s typing. No, you cannot have more chocolate.
The em-dash also indicates a shift or break in character thought or speech…like my interruption above. Another pet punctuation authors overuse are ellipsis points, often “used to suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion or insecurity” (Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, p.457). Em-dashes differ from ellipsis points in that they indicate “interruptions or abrupt changes in thought” (ibid.).
I bring this up not to point fingers at any particular author I may have edited so much as at myself, in hopes that my experience will help others tidy their manuscripts.
My writing suffers from waaaay too many em-dashes. My crit partners pointed out that I’d used them in place of a comma that would have been a comma splice, anyway, sticking together two independent clauses.
How to solve? I like my em-dashes. I really like my em-dashes. A step away from the work was needed. I brought up “find,” typed in an em-dash, and used “highlight” to turn them all dark blue, a blotted out square in my text.
Do this, and then read the individual sentence that used to have an em-dash but now has a dark blot instead. You may leave in any em-dashes paired around parenthetical information or any that end a sentence with an interrupted thought or quotation.
For the others: How would you punctuate it if you could not use an em-dash? Is it two separate, complete sentences? Why not break them up? Would a comma suffice? How about a semicolon?
Tricky bugger, the semicolon. If dialogue, best to avoid them; but used properly in narrative, they take the place of a conjunction to join two independent clauses. You may also use them before a conjunction to set off an independent clause that has internal punctuation, as I did in the above sentence.
The same blot-out technique can be used for ellipsis points as well.
Yellow Faery Editor
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Callie Lynn here, once again, peeking out of my comfortable shroud of darkness. I wanted to take a moment to discuss a subject that until recently has been clear as mud in my own befuddled mind, so I thought it might just be true of others, editors and authors alike.
As most of you know, I represent Black Rose and Diana Carlile represents Scarlet. Our two lines come dangerously close on the sensuality/eroticism scale, so we decided to get together and discuss the differences between our respective line’s heat levels.
Vampires and Werewolves, as we all can attest, are extremely sensual creatures by nature so naturally Black Rose stories will contain a good amount of sexual imagery. The problem is just where do we draw the line between Scarlet (Erotic) and Black (Sensual, Spicy, Hot).Here's what Diana and I have come up with. Black Rose runs between the levels of Sensual, Spicy, and Hot (Note: If you have a lighter Vampire/Werewolf story, of course, it would also fit and be most welcome under Black Rose, but for the sake of the issue at hand, these stories would not apply within this discussion). And, of course, Scarlet levels are Erotic. What I mean by these sensual levels within the Black line is that the sex can be descriptive in its imagery, hot in temperature, but the terminology is tamer and the story themes are never just about the sex. Are you confused yet? Let me say this in a little different way. If your story theme wraps exclusively around the sex, then your sub/story is most likely a Scarlet. If it follows the character's journey and/or growth into his or her own sexuality, then again it is a Scarlet. Make sense?
With this said and if there is still confusion as to where your story submission would fit-no worries. You can submit it to either Diana or myself for guidance. One thing I would strongly suggest for both editors and authors to do is sample stories from both Scarlet and Black Rose lines to access the difference.
Natasha also has tools and samples in the FE Department to guide and educate new/floating editors on how to determine the difference between the lines.
I have added the revised Black Rose Submission guidelines below for your convenience.
If anyone has any questions or concerns, feel free to email me directly anytime.
Black Rose Submission Guidelines:
These stories should include vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, and mystical creatures of all types. They are darker in theme but must have a strong romance as the central story thread. We are open to a wide range of stories, although, because these creatures tend to be sensual in nature, Black Rose accepts manuscripts that fit the Sensual, Spicy, and Hot ratings parameters, but sex should not be used as the main story thread.
One last thing:
Don’t forget that Black Rose’s Got Wolf? writer’s contest is in full swing and open for submissions. I am looking forward to reading yours:)
Friday, March 28, 2008
On my own free time, I read numerous history books all over the map of time. We get a lot of submissions set in Great Britain, and that's great. I love that history and have studied quite a bit of it, written novels with that setting-and my husband looks great in the kilt he inherited from his grandfather.
What would be wonderful though is to see more American history submissions. American history is fascinating, and there are a lot years, and regions, and heritages to choose from. One could choose anywhere from "The Boston Rebels" to "Native American" "African American" "The Civil War" "Early Western expansion" "The Jacksonian era" "Colonial America" "The War of 1812"...well you get the idea-the list goes on.
With so many passionately felt happenings in our past, the possibilites for romance in the midst of such adventure should be sure to spark the imagination. :) I hope to see a resurge of interest in American historicals. Anyone else?
American Rose editor
Callie Lynn here peeking out of the darkness once again.
I wanted to take a moment to discuss a subject that until now has been clear as mud in my own befuddled mind, so I thought it just might be true of others, editors and authors alike. As most of you know, I represent Black Rose and Diana Carlisle represents Scarlet. Our two lines come dangerously close on the sensuality/erotic scale, so we decided to get together and discuss the differences between our two lines.
Vampyres and Werewolves are extremely sensual creatures by nature so naturally Black Rose stories will contain a good amount of sexual imagery. The problem is just where do we draw the line between Scarlet(Erotica) and Black(Sensual, Spicy, Hot).
Here's what Diana and I have come up with. Black Rose runs between the levels of Sensual, Spicy, and Hot (If you have a lighter Vampyre/Werewolf story, of course, it would also fit under Black Rose,but for the sake of the issue at hand, these stories would not apply within this discussion). What I mean by this is the sex can be descriptive in its imagery, hot in temperature, but the terminology is tamer and the story themes are never about the sex. Are you confused yet? Let me say this in a little different way. If the story theme wraps around sex than your sub/story is a Scarlet. If it follows the character's journey and or growth into his or her own sexuality, then again it is a Scarlet.
With this said and if there is still confusion as to where your story or a submission should go, no worries. You can submit it to either of us for guidance. One thing I would strongly suggest for both editors and authors is to sample stories from both lines to access the difference.
Natasha also has tools and samples in the FE Department to guide and educate the new editors/floating editors on how to determine the difference between the lines.
Note to all editors:
We have sample stories that do give you a distinctive example of the difference. If anyone is interested either Diana or myself would be more than happy to send them you way.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Yep that’s my name – well actually it’s RJMorris. I’m the other owner of The Wild Rose Press. But somehow I got labeled Snarky and it stuck. I think it comes from my way of shooting out plain emails, no chitchat etc., but I like it. It fits my dragon caricature so well.
But I’m not a non-chatty person. Just ask those that have actually spoken with me. They’ll tell you that RJ can tangent with the best of them face-to-face or on the phone. Boy, get me on a favorite topic and you cannot shut me up. I do love my soapbox/podium.
My duties around here are pretty basic. Do whatever the Boss Lady tells me to - so here I am chatting. Actually Rhonda and I are a great team. We’re opposite in so many ways, that it makes us fit like puzzle pieces – pretty cool. But along with doing her bidding
Well, I hope that’s enough chatting about me, I’ve got to get back to work. We had a power outage today so I’m already behind. So let me just say, that if you’re new to the garden, Welcome, and if you’ve been here a while, Howdy!
Ya’ll come back now, ya here?
So, I thought I would post a couple of things which help us to see our work with a fresh eye.
Number one: Put away the manuscript for at least two weeks. When you're finished with what you think is your final edit, forget the manscript for a couple of weeks. Don't open the file, don't read the print-out, don't remember something from page 165, and go back and fix it. (Make a note if you think you'll forget) Leave the story alone completely. This will help your brain "forget" what's supposed to be on the page, and help it to see what's actually there.
Two: Change the font and/or the size of the font that you've been using all along. This will help the words appear different to your brain, and you'll pay closer attention.
Three: You've all heard the "read it backwards" advice. Although, this is not one of my favourites because I find it difficult and impossible to read for context, it does work for a lot of people. Typos will be caught this way, so I include it in the tips because it does work well for some people. Try it, and see how it works for you.
Four: Get a speech recognition software program to read the story aloud to you. (There are some free ones out there if you don't have any on your computer). The voice will sound computer generated, and will not always have proper inflections, but it will read "thee" where you really meant to type "the" or "he" where you meant "she," and so you'll hear those mistakes your brain would automatically correct.
Well, this post is getting a little long, so I'll leave you with those tidbits. Happy editing.
Nicola Martinez, Senior Editor
English Tea Rose
The yahoogroups I belonged to, and the forums, and writing things all said stuff like, "make sure there's a hook" "start with part of the story. Editors love it when you launch into the story...." There was the snazzy-opening camp, and the start with a question-camp, and the if you have a comma in the wrong place, they're going to track you down and kill you-camp.
I still belong to some of those groups. They still talk about commas, and great hooks--but writing is subjective. Not every editor is going to like every query. The hooks go by in a blur--sometimes they even hurt, going off on weird tangents that don't come anywhere close to the actual story. I don't grammar check queries (I know it's horrible of me, but what can I say?), and I skip over bits that doesn't relate to the submission.
I like a straightforward--this is why I picked this house. This is the target-line, word count. This is my story--insert short description. This is my contact info. This is my (carefully polished, but not totally OCD) synopsis.
Professional as possible--no IM text or inappropriate slang. Like Nicola said--treat it like a business. We're all in it together.
Monday, March 24, 2008
The thing about Nanowrimo is it's all about word count. You write, you count and if you hit a certain amount of words--it's, am, the and uh, included--you win. It's a feel-good version of writing to publish, with the razor edges blunted to make the dream accessible. Sometimes people publish. Sometimes they don't.
Sometimes...people use it as a springboard to learn more about the craft of writing. Paraphrasing Nora Roberts, it's easier to edit than create.
...so my friend had a baby.
And joined an on-line writer's group--my fault, I pushed her--and got into the habit of writing and taking to other writers, some just starting out, some not so new. And like all writers, figured she needed feedback.
So she posted a thread for a critique partner.
The trouble with crit-partners is that all partners aren't created equal. Some are nice, some aren't. It's an agenda thing.
It means, "what's in it for me". Most trainers know that to create buy-in, you need to explain why. Like water, people flow downhill. To carve new canyons, you're going to need blasting caps.
In other words--each person needs to get something out of it.
My friend had nothing to offer. What she really needed was basic craft-work and a beta reader. Beta-readers are different from crit-partners because they aren't trying to "fix" you. They're there to tell you what works. When you're starting out, a friend--a good honest friend--who reads in your sub-genre, is the best partner.
Beta readers are right there in the trenches, reading. They know the market, they know more about craft than you'd guess--because they know what works for them.
Writing is nothing if not up close and personal. You need someone you can trust, and questions.
1) Does it make logical sense? If not, it's a structure/plot problem.
2) Were you bored anywhere? If yes--you need to learn to tighten and increase tension.
3) Did the characters interest you and the dialog work? There are great books and resources on character-building and dialog. The Greenhouse section of our website has links and articles.
4) How did the live-monkeys work for you? oops...wrong post.
Add more questions, tweak them, anything you want--just make sure to make them hard-copy and leave plenty of space for comments.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Which tells me, they never looked it over and reworked it before sending it to be consider for publication. That's laziness in it's highest form. When they tell me that I'm glad I rejected it, because they should have took the time to make it the best it could be, not send it off and hope the editor will rewrite it for them.
I know this sounds like I'm the b-word. But I can't believe the audacity to send anything but your best work.
This is my biggest Pet Peeve.
Cactus Rose Line
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I think the topic of tonight's Historical Chat is a good one. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it tonight as the chat conflicts with my church service. So, I thought I'd post a couple of my pet peeves here.
The first pet peeve--at least the first to catch my attention--is a poorly written query letter. I think the problem arises partly because of the animal that is email. When we have to print a letter, put it in an envelope, pay 42 cents to mail it, we tend to spend a little more time on what goes into it. We don't type out a hasty one or two line letter that is basically just a, "This is my book, can I send it to you please?"
In addition, most of the emails we write are informal and chatty, using abbeviations and internet/IM slang to save time. While this is OK in a general email, queries still need to be presented as professional. They should be (as opposed to s/b) written in full sentences, not abbeviations, and they should be well thought-out, professional, and typo-free.
Ideally, queries should be written like a back cover teaser. Introduce the title, target line and word length, and then give a brief, but enticing, one-to-two paragraph blurb about the story. If relevant, add writing credentials.
When I see a query that is professional, I know the author is serious about his/her career, which means the manuscript he or she is proposing to submit will be the best manuscript the individual can make it (some necessary editing notwithstanding).
My next pet peeve has to be sloppy grammar. I am not so much of a stickler that I cannot see the need for a sentence fragment, or ending a sentence in a preposition, here and there (or even using who instead of whom, if it reads better), but I don't expect to see stories so riddled with grammatical errors that I have to wonder what is the meaning of a sentence or paragraph. So, authors, please: if grammar is not your strong suit, have someone look over your manuscript before you send it in.
Within the "grammar" issue, I have to mention the use of semi-colons. I have nothing against them. In fact, I think they should be used when appropriate. But, I see far too many people using semi-colons incorrectly--and because they are not a common animal, when used incorrectly, they really stick out. If you're going to use semi-colons, make sure you use them correctly, please. (hint: A semi-colon is not used to join an independent clause [full sentence] to a dependent clause [fragment]) ;)
We have some wonderful articles and resources in the greenhouse section of our website, so if you need further information on any of these things, I encourage you to visit the greenhouse.
All that said, I have to say that I have been blessed to have had contact with some wonderful authors--both those whose work I've contracted, and those whose work I've had to reject for one reason or another. And to all you authors who are planning to submit something to either the English Tea Rose line or White Rose Line, I look forward to receiving your query in my email box very soon.
Happy Easter, Everyone.
Nicola Martinez, Senior Editor
English Tea Rose
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
That's one of the reasons I enjoy our garden so much. Anytime of year writers and readers can come to us and enjoy the various aspects of the company from the warm and friendly Greenhouse to the interviews with the quirky but sweet Ima Rose in In the Garden. We have chats almost every night. We have the new critique group - The Rose Trellis which is busy already and we now have this blog. There's simply something for everyone and something to look at every time you stop by our garden.
Don't forget that this is the month of White Rose promotions; there's a jellybean hunt taking place on the web site, only in the bookstore section, and keeping in mind it is a celebration of the White Rose Month. I've heard complaints that the hunt is too hard. I'm reminded of my sons' when they were little and we'd hide their Easter baskets. After a short time at least one would complain that it was too hard to find. You have until March 31 to send your guess of how many jellybeans there are to email@example.com. If you find the bonus jellybean (this doesn't count towards the number of jellybeans), that's an extra prize so send an email to the same address and let us know where you found it.
We've got some great new things coming in April. We'll be celebrating our English Tea Roses month so we'll have special promotions there. At the same time, Sweetheart Rose is planting a brand new series (details coming soon) that will ensure some gorgeous new blooms from that part of the garden.
Our goal with this blog is to try to keep you informed of what we're doing and even to let you get to know each of us a little better. My hope for you today is that spring comes soon wherever you are and until it does, you can always curl up with a good book. I know just the place to find some wondeful romances!
I wish all of you chocolate bunnies and jellybeans! Happy Easter.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
One thing you can say about those March winds… they always bring change. That’s especially true this month for the historical division of TWRP.
It’s probably something authors or reader have never given much thought to, but the historical division has always been a bit unique in its set up. We are one department consisting of three individual departments. It is my personal opinion—and fortunately for me, Rhonda and RJ agreed—that every department needs a manager, someone to keep things on track and in order. For the past two years, I have filled that role, and loved every second of it. But as the company has grown, so have our departments—and it was time for a little restructuring.
Last week, I had the honor of naming senior editors to each of the historical lines. If you’re already an historical author here, then their names are probably very familiar to you. Paty Tanner is now senior editor of the Cactus Rose line; Nicke Martinez is senior editor of our English Tea Rose line and Pamela Winger is senior editor of the American Rose line. (I’m not going anywhere; I’m still the head of the historical division overall, I just have help holding it all together now.) I truly believe the historical department would not be where it is right now without these three amazing editors. Won’t you join me in welcoming them in their new roles by leaving a congratulatory comment here?
You may be wondering what this all means for you, the author—what changes will you see as a result of this restructuring? Hopefully none! The wheels of the historical division will continue to turn as smoothly as they always have.
But there is one change I’d love to see—and only you can make it happen. We want more submissions! The hallways of our department have grown quiet these past few weeks. Where are those cowboys and gunslingers? The medieval knights, the Lords and Ladies of the Ton? What about soldiers? Is the cavalry going to come riding in sometime soon? Come on writers, we’re waiting to hear from you!
- Nicole D’Arienzo, Managing Editor, Historical Division
The historical division hosts an author/editor chat the third Thursday of each month at 8 p.m. Join us Thursday night for this month’s topic “Editor Pet Peeves.”
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I've often said that one of the reasons The Wild Rose Press has done as well as it has is that our authors feel a personal commitment to us. Instead of it being those of us that work here in some secret closed door office, we're right out there with all of you and you can sense that. Its a community garden; one where everyone pitches in to make it bloom and grow.
Well, we're almost at our two year birthday and whatever we're all doing its working. I hope this blog is yet another tool to help you understand us. I hope you'll make this another place you visit on a regular basis and tell your friends to check out.
Soon RJ and I will be off to RT; I'll make sure to blog all about it so we can share it with you.
Until then, bloom and grow with us!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Spencer described what we like to see in our corral and we even have a special Yellow series open for submissions as well.....Wayback, Texas....where cowboys fall in love every 8 seconds!
To learn more about the town, the stories already available in the series, talk to other authors and find more details visit:
If you've got creatures like this roaming the mists or forests of your imagination, we're looking for you. If your characters have a knack for turning furry at least once a month or have the ability to emit pheromones that don't give the recipient a chance in Hell--no pun intended:)-- of resisting his/her will, I want to meet them. We're open to other darker stories as well.
And the bonus! Check out Got Wolf? Black Rose's contest running right now. If you do have a hot shapeshifter stalking your imagination then get him/her down on paper! You're story will have a chance at being placed in our Got Wolf? Anthology and you have the chance of winning a fabulously decadant Black Rose Gift basket. For more information just go to http://www.thewildrosepress.com/ and click on the Got Wolf? banner at the top of the page.
Well back to reviewing all those wonderful submissions! Do I have one from you?
Welcome to this side of the garden gate. I'm excited to announce that March is White Rose month, and all month we're running a fun jellybean contest. This is your chance to win a great gift basket filled with all sorts of goodies, so check out TWRP Rose of the Month page for more info. Authors are eligible to enter.
On the submission front, White Rose is always looking for interesting emotionally-driven inspirational stories in all lengths, so query us on your inspirational romantic suspense, or your inspirational romantic comedy. Got an inspirational tear-jerker? Tell us about it. Check out the White Rose Guidelines for more in-depth submission info.
Nicola Martinez, Senior Editor
Thursday, March 13, 2008
A little about me? Well, I live in the horse country of southern Michigan with my husband and kids (yes, Spencer is a woman!) and love to read stories about hunky cowboys and the feisty women who rope them in. So if you have a story like that in your head, then get it down on your computer and send it in to the Yellow Rose corral.