Monday, December 12, 2011
All the editors were sighing, and letting go of their mouse.
The cover models were hung (hee hee) on the covers with care,
In hopes that the readers would drool and stare.
The great manuscripts were edited and all have been read,
As visions of more submissions danced in our heads.
With RJ at her computer, and Rhonda in her pjs,
The editors are poised for a few easy days.
When over in Crimson there arose such a clatter,
A villain on the prowl was as mad as a hatter,
Away to the department the editors flew like a flash,
But the bad man was caught and tied with a sash.
The hand on the breast of the heroine vampire,
Her body parts tingled, as if on fire.
When what to our unbelieving eyes should appear,
But one lonely cowboy with all the right gear.
With a mighty stud, so lively and thick,
We knew in a moment it must be erotic.
More rapid than eagles the senior editors they came,
And we whistled, and shouted, TWRP would never be the same.
Now Nicole! Now Diana! Now Stacy, Amanda, and Leanne!
On Callie Lynn! On Lori! On Kathy and Roseann!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
To the faery department we went, to all have a ball!
As elves, ghosts, and other creatures fly,
When we see these characters we look to the sky
So all around us in the air they flew,
With a variety of costumes, and some dragons, too.
And then in a twinkling we heard in the hall,
A Civil War soldier with a lilting southern drawl.
As we were turning our heads and looking around,
A modern day hero was what we found.
He was dressed in his finest from head to his boot,
His clothes were tight fitting, and we let out a hoot.
A bundle of manuscripts he had flung on his back,
The host of good stories TWRP would not lack.
The manuscripts—so many! The plots how they varied.
Thank goodness, the hero and heroine were not married.
The older heroine is welcome her too.
Her experiences are old, but her love life is new.
Lords and ladies, and a man in a kilt,
Oh we love how those Scottish heroes are built.
A sweetheart of a story can warm a reader’s heart,
But unless behind closed doors the characters are apart.
Give me a cowboy who just rode into town.
Or a vamp and a were, but please not a clown.
An erotic, oh dear, can make us so hot,
But please make sure the manuscript has a plot
We looked in the pack for a manuscript to take,
Saved the stories on our computers for after the break.
Putting our flash drives in a very safe spot,
The Christmas cheer made us feel like a tiny tot.
We sprang to our computers for one last time.
We needed to end our little rhyme.
So here us exclaim as we shut down and go out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
~composed by Allison Byers
Historical Department Editor
Monday, December 5, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Or do you shudder at the idea of revising, editing, and proofreading your manuscript as many as seventy-two times? (Yes, that’s the latest statistic I’ve heard from successful, multi-pubbed authors.) Perfecting your craft and fine-tuning your manuscript is tough work and not for the faint of heart.
So what should you do?
Take a leaf out of your own book and do what your characters do: they persevere. They don’t give up.
When your characters confront external obstacles, do they shrug and walk away? No. When their goals are too distant to grasp, do your characters decide those goals aren’t really worth the effort after all? Unlikely. When your characters’ motivations evolve and reshape their thoughts and actions in scary or unfamiliar ways, do they race back to their comfort zones—and stay there? No—not if your plot and character arcs progress properly.
Or what about the young men on my local high school football team, which was undefeated…until yesterday? Those boys worked hard seven days a week, often in the cold and pouring rain, to finish their season only one game away from the state championship—a new record for our town. The student fans, parents, and community members who attended every game (sometimes driving hours each way and usually filling the visitors’ stands more than the home team stands were) were so supportive of those boys that newspaper articles mentioned the team’s “twelfth man on the field” and its impact on the team’s success and morale. One fan’s story sticks in my mind: She didn’t have a son on the team, yet she made a protein-packed tuna fish sandwich every week for the team’s running back—despite being at her mother’s side nearly 24/7 for weeks following the mother’s October heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. Some weeks the woman used high-end tuna, or more expensive bread, or fat-free mayonnaise, all in an effort to keep the sandwich interesting and to give the player even a tiny edge—or so she said. In reality, she demonstrated and reciprocated the boys’ inspiring commitment to their goals, and overcame roadblocks and challenges and turmoil.
So where do these football players and fans—and your own book’s characters—draw their strength to trudge onward, despite the obstacles, the big goals, and the unknown path to the end zone—or the happily ever after?
I don’t know, actually, where the real-life characters draw their strength from. It’s different for each of us, I bet. But your fictional characters get their determination from you. You created them and festooned them with their traits—good and bad—and imbued them with appropriate goals, motivations, and conflicts. You’ve given birth to them. They’re yours. And, once born, they will always exist.
You can use them to help inspire yourself—to persevere, to not give up, to forge ahead, and to tackle the obstacles, including the internal ones. You’ve created those characters and guided them to a happily ever after, so you have it in you to do the same for yourself and finish your manuscript. Right?
And along the way, eat a tuna fish sandwich or two.
By Lori LeBonde
Scarlet Rose Editor
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Experience is an author's most valuable asset; experience is the thing that puts the muscle and the breath and the warm blood into the book he writes.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Happy Veterans Day to all of you who have served our country and our gratitude to the families who stayed behind and worried and loved you. All of you deserve this day of thanks and I sincerely hope you feel the love of those of us who you so bravely protected.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter, leaves are falling, and the holidays are just around the corner. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite celebrations. I began working at The Wild Rose Press around this time several years ago. My name is Anne Seymour, and I currently work as an editor on the Crimson Rose line. I always love a good mystery, especially when the hero is as hot as the suspense.
The one aspect, in my opinion, that marks the difference between just a manuscript and a GREAT MANUSCRIPT is THE FIRST FIVE PAGES. During this critical point in a story, the author must pull the reader in and hook their interest, or the reader will become apathetic toward the characters—and probably not finish reading the book.
Sounds shocking, right? How can an author open a grand story, introduce sympathetic characters and evil villains, begin the action and conflict, but yet confine all above mentioned aspects to a mere FIVE PAGES? An insurmountable task one might say, right? But maybe not; let’s discuss the basics now.
First, we must unlearn all that we have learned previously about writing. I studied all the great works in Literature during college. James Fennimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Henry James, etc. wrote stories in omniscient point of view employing the writing method of “telling” the action instead of “showing” it. This technique removes the reader from the action of the story instead of insisting the reader to take part with the characters in the act. A reader must be immersed in the action and emotionally involved with the characters by the end of the fifth page of a story. Make the reader unable to do anything but participate with your characters.
Next, find an opening line that will grab attention. For example, “Take it easy. It’s not like I’m going anywhere.” Sunny jerked her arms back hoping to slow the pace of the large-framed detective who continued to drag her from the bar with unwavering force. “Calm down, Wildcat. You’re only making it harder on yourself.” He didn’t slow his stride, or ease the firm grasp he had on her arm as he walked beside her.” In this example, (Some Like It In Handcuffs by Christine Warner—coming soon from The Wild Rose Press) the author introduces the hero and heroine within the first four sentences while adding humor and sexual tension. The reader is hooked now, determined to learn more and join the story.
Finally, make sure to include ONLY necessary information at this time. The first five pages are not for any of the following:
n Back-story: while back-story will be needed in any novel, it should never appear in the first five pages! Use back-story sparingly and only when needed throughout the novel, but never allow it to be longer than a few paragraphs at a time.
n Secondary Characters: Introduce these characters later in the story. Reserve the main characters (hero, heroine, & villain (if there is one)) for the beginning.
n Descriptive or Non-Action Scenes: Describe the setting later. The first five pages should not be filled with paragraphs of how beautiful the sky, trees and meadows are. Also, no Non-Action scenes! Start with a fight scene, a murder, etc. Grab attention.
While this is a brief overview, I hope I’ve mentioned good points to consider. If any are interested in another more in-depth discussion, please comment and let me know. I would be happy to offer another blog discussing this further. Until then, enjoy the season and keep writing!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Elmore Leonard has written more than 40 novels — as soon as he finishes one, he starts on another. He's famous for his advice for writers. In 2001, he published a piece in The New York Times called "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle." He gave 10 rules, things like "Never open a book with weather"; "Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue"; "Avoid detailed descriptions of characters"; and "Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip." He wrote: "Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue. My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
He said: "I feel that I learned to write Westerns by reading and rereading For Whom the Bells Tolls. [...] But I was not influenced by his attitude, thank God. My attitude is much less serious. I see absurdities in serious situations, influenced in this regard by Vonnegut, Richard Bissell, and Mark Harris, and this shows in my writing. It's your attitude that determines your sound, not style."
Monday, October 24, 2011
So what should authors be thinking about when the consider their "perfect" cover? Believe it or not, this thought process should begin as soon as you begin sketching out the storyline and your characters. If you want a cover that is not just an honest reflection of your story but also one that will help it sell, consider the following:
Scenes/locations: Can the cover artist find an acceptable representation, regardless of whether your story is set in Colonial New England, the depths of space, or contemporary Manhattan? Depending on the stock art site, this might be a challenge, offering you the choice of something that isn't "historically" accurate or a background that must be pieced together. Collages have their place in cover design, but too much is NOT a good thing and rarely looks realistic. So make it easy for your artist--stay true to your concept but offer a simplistic backdrop that can be easily replicated.
Time: Period pieces are a big draw for many readers because it puts us in a time and place we've never experienced. However, be aware that due to photo stock limitations, you may not always get an authentic representation. So, again, keep your settings general to give the artist more latitude with the images. The final product will stay truer to your vision and the reader will have an easier time buying into the idea.
Characters: Here's a challenge for you...go to your favorite stock photo site and find a voluptuous redhead with violet eyes in a white laced "pirate-style" shirt being held by a 6 foot 6 inch muscle-bound man wearing leather pants with long black hair and a shock of white just over his left eye. Nothing...yeah, I thought so. Cover artists have just as hard a time finding that "perfect" couple shot, and the job can be made even more difficult if your sexy duo is so specifically detailed. Offer good descriptions, but understand that some "people" just don't exist in the real world.
Level of heat: Asking for a barely clothed couple in an embrace so hot that it melts the screen will get you exactly that. It's vivid, eye catching, and bound to draw in the reader. For many publishers and authors, heat sells. Ensure that the cover you request can keep pace with the sensuality of the content. Otherwise, the whole package becomes a lie that the content can't live up to.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Author / Experience Diversity
I have always considered myself a very accepting person when it comes to different cultures and life choices. I try not to judge people for who they are or what they do with their life. If it works for them, and they are happy, then good for them.
Not too long ago, I attended a conference that opened my eyes to lifestyles I’d heard/read about but never really experienced firsthand. Doms and Submissives, polyamorous marriages, bondage. I realized I have led a very sheltered life. I have read about people in Dom/Sub relationships, and how some Doms will make the Sub act as their end table, or will make them eat out of dog dishes. I was fascinated at this particular conference to see a Sub being led around by a leash.
I never expected to be shunned for being straight and monogamous. I consider myself to be friendly. When I come out of my shell, I will talk to anyone. And more often than not, people respond to my smile and the gesture. However, at this conference, I had two people shun me when they found out I was straight and married to my high school sweetheart. I couldn’t understand why that would bother anyone.
There are so many different cultures, races, and lifestyles out there…so many I am ashamed to admit I know nothing about. Though my parents raised me to be accepting of everything, to never judge a person simply by the color of their skin, I remained ignorant to how they lived.
I still choose to accept that everyone makes their own choices in life, that just because they are different than me doesn’t make me better than them. It’s a lesson I think everyone needs to remember. No one will love everything that you do, or believe the same way you do. If that were the case, this world would be a boring place.
The next time you find yourself crinkling your nose at the oddness of the person you see wearing a fuzzy bunny costume hitting on the 6’6” cross dresser on the corner, take a breath and remember: they probably think you are just as odd.
Love yourself for who you are, and everything else will fall in line.
Johanna Melaragno- Editor
Monday, October 10, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Having attended a number of writers conferences over the years, I've had the privilege to sit in on any number of workshops, the Craft Tract being a personal favorite. One which stood out the loudest came when Nora Roberts told the audience, 'write what you know.' Coming from one of my writing heroes, the advice made sense―except I wondered how I, as a nurse [then] could ever turn a doctor into a hero. If you don't know where someone had their hands last--not an appealing thought as far as I was concerned.
Then came the day when I heard Tess Gerritsen speak at a New Jersey Romance Writers conference. She spoke about how her roots in writing dated back to her medical residency days in the ICU and observing what the nurses―whom she spoke of with great respect and affection―were reading: category romances. Wow. A physician who spoke of nurses with respect. I had to read one of her books. Let me tell you, after devouring “The Apprentice”, I was hooked. Tess Gerritsen writes what she knows!
As a teenager, living in a rural area with little to do and no way to get anywhere, I read anything I could get my hands on. I discovered a book by Frank G. Slaughter in my parents' library, a Civil War story about a female spy and a male battle surgeon. Very bloody, lots of guts, gore and suffering. Right up the alley of a fourteen year old with an over-active imagination and way too much time on her hands. Thoroughly hooked, I proceeded to sign out every one of his books from the school library as well as the library in a neighboring town. It wasn't until I later that I learned Mister Slaughter was actually a medical doctor.
This author had the ability to put me in the moment of a battlefield hospital scene, suffering right along with the physician and his patients. One of Dr. Slaughter's contemporary novels, “Daybreak” featured the trials and tribulations of a physician working in the mental health system prior to the advent of effective anti-psychotic medications when pre-frontal lobotomies and electroshock therapy were considered last ditch efforts to treat intractable psychiatric problems. Very chilling stuff for this young woman who was about to head off for three years of nursing school in―you guessed it―a state psychiatric facility. By the end of my schooling, I'd passed more Thorazine and Mellaril than any thousand nursing students―and no fresh lobotomies, thank you very much.
As a young wife with a graduate student husband and two small kids, money was tight. I lucked out when I discovered a second-hand book store which stocked copies of Robert K. Tannenbaum's legal thrillers featuring Assistant District Attorneys Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi. With each book I learned about the steps in the legal process, evidence that can degrade over time or be lost by dumb luck or stupid accident, “eye witnesses” who don't see everything, and a how-to manual for criminals who want to beat the system. It came as no surprise when I learned this man spent many years in the Manhattan DA's office, prosecuting the worst of the worst. Writing with a sharp wit and biting sarcasm, after more than thirty years, Mr. Tannenbaum's books continue to hold my interest. Another instance of writing what one knows.
Lastly, I'd like to blow the horn for one of my nursing as well as writer heroes: Eileen Dreyer. After many years in category romance [writing as Kathleen Korbel], Eileen―an experienced ER nurse―was called up to the big leagues with a series of medical thrillers set in and around St. Louis, Missouri. Invariably her heroines are nurses with advanced training [such as Eileen herself] in forensic evidence collection, death examinations, and critical incident management. Using gut-busting humor, Eileen makes the everyday come to life and answers the question, “What if?”
In closing, I challenge any author to look at their everyday life and incorporate something they find there into his/her writing. Okay, so maybe you don't have an exciting job which includes passing bed pans or inserting suppositories, but do you have a volunteer job you really love, something that gives back ten times more than what you put in? I have a friend who volunteers at a soup kitchen, another takes calls on a domestic violence crisis line, a third takes an AA meeting into the county jail every week.
Do you have an Aunt Helen [like me] who retired from the Navy Nurse Corps at the rank of Lieutenant Commander after serving in World War II and Korea? [It was very rare in those days for a female to rise to that rank.] Do you have religious connections you might tap for a secondary character? I know an author who pumped her priest uncle for the scoop on how to get around the priest-penitent privilege and the sanctity of the confessional―and yes, under certain circumstances, it can be done.
Could where you live or go for a vacation be turned into a setting so vivid readers want to move there? One of the Class of '85 stories was set in the Adirondack Mountains. Believe me, the author nailed it.
What turns you on? How do you fill all those empty hours in your life? Do you attend festivals or state fairs? How about protest marches? Out of the Dark, a September 2010 anthology from the Last Rose line featured a protest march that turned into a riot. The author was a veteran of protests from back in the 80's and 90's; it was clear she knew what she was talking about. The description spoke to me as an editor as well as a woman.
As an editor and a reader, I have developed a second sense for what rings true and what comes from someone who took the easy way out when it came to doing his or her homework―and not all were unpublished. Do not depend on legal whodunits on the big screen or mystery illness of the week on TV for accuracy. If you want to know which shows portray accurate situations, ask someone who's already in The Biz. I myself DO NOT EVER EVER watch any of the “CSI” shows, “House”, “ER”, “Law and Order, SVU”. The shows earning the highest ratings do not always consider the truth because they would lose viewers.
In closing, I suggest that to put realism and depth in your WIP, add what you know.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Every author envisions the perfect book cover with characters on the cover that the artist seemed to pluck right from your head. Mood, setting, tone—it’s going to be perfect. But wait, the cover hits your inbox and it’s nothing what you expected. Take a breath and relax.
TWRP has wonderful cover artists. With the limited information you provide on a cover request sheet, we hope you have a cover you can be proud of. What you might not know is that before it was ever sent to you, your cover has already been through an approval process. So what does marketing look for in a cover?
Every publishing company has a brand. If you look at the evolution of TWRP covers, you’ll see a progression from plain colored backgrounds with text for shorter works and side banners on every book to show the Rose Line the book is from such as Cactus Rose or Crimson Rose. To what we now have—beautiful custom cover art for every title. But now that there isn’t a banner on the side, we still want to showcase our brand of romantic fiction on our book covers. Our covers have that indefinable quality that represents the romance of a Wild Rose Press book.
But marketing also considers other qualities. Is the font easy to read? Can a reader clearly see both the title and your name? If the book is going into print, does the cover showcase well in large full sized image as well as thumb sized for digital etailers? And is the cover clean and concise enough to be recognized scaled down for some etailers? A cluttered cover, a cover that is too dark or too light won’t stand out on a website with thousands of other covers.
To go a little off topic. By the time you’re ready for a cover your book has been contracted and is probably somewhere in the editing stage and it’s a bit late for changes. So here is some advice. When you finish your story and you’re ready to submit, think about the title. A long title is going to clutter the cover. A common phrase will have dozens to hundreds of books with the same title. To give an example, I plugged Homecoming into the Kindle.com search bar and had 191 possibilities show. A title that begins with The, A, or An are going to be lost in the etailer catalog.
So when you get your cover, know that we don’t just consider the beautiful couple on a beach at sunset. But we also want a cover that reflects our publishing house and will be recognizable as your book. Your legible name and title and the overall cover are the best first impression you’ll have for your book.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
You may be surprised to learn that one of the most common reasons I reject manuscripts isn’t poor writing, a lackluster plot, or lack of character development…it’s that the novel simply isn’t a romance. With the growing popularity of “chick lit” and women’s fiction, the line between romance novels and other fiction marketed to women has become blurrier. However, The Wild Rose Press is still a ROMANCE publisher, which means all our books must have a romantic relationship at their core. So, how do you know whether you’re writing romance or more general women’s fiction? I’ve put together a list of some questions to ask yourself and use to evaluate your manuscript. If you’re at the beginning stage of a writing project, you can use this checklist to determine whether the story you want to tell is really a romance and, if so, how you can make sure the focus stays on the romantic relationship. If you have a completed manuscript, this list will help you decide which publishers are best for your work—and may spare you a few rejections in the process.
1. When do the hero and heroine meet?
In a romance novel, I like to see the hero and heroine meet in the first chapter if at all possible, unless there’s a really good reason to put off their meeting. In women’s fiction, where the focus is more on the heroine, the author may take a few chapters to develop the main female character before introducing a love interest. In romance, the female character still develops and changes—but she does so within the context of the romantic relationship. If your hero doesn’t appear till Chapter 3 or 4, there’s a good chance you’ve got a women’s fiction novel rather than a romance.
2. What point of view are you writing in?
Romance is generally written in third person, alternating between the hero and heroine’s viewpoints. Chick lit is more often written in the first person, which makes sense, since this places the focus more clearly on the heroine. I have accepted romances written in the first person, either exclusively from the heroine’s point of view or alternating between the hero and heroine. However, the vast majority of successful romances are still written in third person. In addition, while some genres of women’s fiction might include a wide variety of characters’ viewpoints, romance usually limits the POV to the hero and heroine. While a romantic suspense might include a few sections from a villain’s POV, unless there’s a compelling reason to use a third POV, it’s usually a safe bet to stick with your hero and heroine’s viewpoints.
3. Is the romance the main source of conflict?
Yes, I want to see a well-rounded heroine who experiences character growth in all aspects of her life. However, if you find that the character’s job, or female friendships, or relationships with parents or children (just as a few examples) are taking up more page space than the romance, you probably have women’s fiction on your hands.
4. Is there a Happily-Ever-After ending?
In a romance novel, readers expect and are gratified to see the hero and heroine come together for good by the novel’s end. In women’s fiction, there’s a broader range of possible conclusions to your story.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and remember, rather you’re writing inside or outside the romance genre, it’s always a good idea to consider the specific expectations of your market throughout the writing process. That way, by the time you finish writing and revising, you’ll have a good idea of where to submit your manuscript.
-Stephanie Parent, Editor, Champagne Line