Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Email Query By Roni Adams

Originally posted in the TWRP Greenhouse

Submissions: How to Email Query By Roni Adams

In this age of email and instant access to editors and agents, should your email query letter be as formal as one sent through postal mail?

Of course it should. Even though email is a more informal means of communication, your first representation of yourself and your work should always be completely professional. A query letter doesn't have to follow the same format as a written letter, like we learned in high school business class. You don't need to provide an inside address, a proscribed number of spaces, the date and a formal salutation and closing, but the letter should contain formal attributes.

Email Address should reflect you as a serious writer

To back up one step, one of the most important things in an email query should be your own email address. Is it professional? Does it reflect your writing career, such as or is it something like Which one sounds like a serious writer working towards publication? An email address should be an extension and should include your pen name, if you have one. Another thing my email demonstrates is that I have a web site where they can go to discover more about me.

Do you need a web site? That's another whole discussion, but if you have one, you should definitely advertise the fact by using that email when querying or in any correspondence with editors or agents. If you don't have one, you do need to get an email that's professional. Either with your given name or your pen name.

Okay, so now you have a professional email address. Do you have the name of the editor you are querying? If you do, then you should certainly address that person by name in the email the same as in a regular letter:

Dear Ms. Jones.

If you don't know the editor's name or you are querying a general email submission box such as then no salutation is needed. For some, the greeting, "Dear Editor" is too generic. Choose to start your query like: "After reading your submission guidelines, I would like to submit the following to your erotic romance line." Then a space or two and then the next line: "My story is about two actors caught in a timewarp on an old west stage. The two loves wind up in a series of…" You get the idea. Make your query only a few paragraphs, hit the highlights of your story the same as you would in a printed query letter.

In the final paragraph say something to the effect of, "I have included my synopsis following this query letter. I look forward to hearing from you soon." Close the note with a formal signature and your contact information, including snail mail address. I always add my phone number. The last thing you want is an editor who would like to request your story but can't find you.

The Synopsis

After your contact info, make three *** to indicate a break between the query and the synopsis. Start with the title of your book, the page or word length, and then, if appropriate, which line in the publishing house you are targeting. For example:

"To Love and Lose"
55K words
Champagne Rose Line
No attachments, unless requested

One of the most important things when emailing an editor is to never, never, never attach anything unless you have been invited to do so. In this day of virus and SPAMS, editors have been instructed by their IT departments to never open attachments they aren't familiar with and to delete them without reading.

Brief Synopsis

Keep your synopsis brief. Make it appeal to the editor and generate interest. Your goal is the same as it is in a snail mail query; you want that editor to respond positively and ask for more.

Once you have that editor's email, you may be tempted to simply shoot them a note and ask them if they received your query. Editors are very busy people. They receive hundreds of emails weekly, sometimes daily. Most will send an email verifying receipt of your query and will be in touch after their review. Sending your email with the "return receipt" button turned on is generally acceptable.

When to Inquire

So you know your query was received and several weeks have passed. How long do you wait before contacting the editor and asking for a status update? The worst thing you can do is email an editor a week after you've sent your submission. Just because email is instant and quick doesn't mean the reading or reviewing of email is any faster than reading a printed letter. Give the editor time to do his/her job.

How to Inquire

So how long do you wait? The same as you would a snail mail submission. First refer to the publisher's submission guidelines. Is a timeframe stated? Some houses request no additional contact for at least six months, etc. If no details are given, use the guideline of three months. Again, be professional. Do not become a pest to this editor and be tagged as such. Your follow-up should be short and to the point. Something along the line of:

"On February 1, 2007 I emailed a submission for my story, "On Bended Knee." I am following up to see if I can provide additional information on this story. I am still very interested in your opinion of this time travel western, and I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience."

That's it. Again, give your contact info, etc. Remember, the fact email is friendly and informal doesn't mean you have that type of relationship with this editor. Even if you've met at a conference, had lunch or exchange greetings in the ladies room, do not assume they will remember you. Keep things professional, and you will begin what is hopefully a healthy business relationship on the right foot.


Reprinted with permission from

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Synopsis That Gets Noticed

Originally posted in the TWRP greenhouse.

The Synopsis: A Synopsis That Gets Noticed

Your synopsis can be a winner if you follow these tips:

1. The synopsis tells the entire story. Make sure it has a beginning, middle and end.

2. Don't give your synopsis a hook ending like "for the rest of the story read..." The editor won't read the book if she doesn't know that the ending is satisfactory. You need to give her all the facts.

3. Your synopsis must be written well. It must have proper margins, spacing and fonts. If your synopsis is difficult to read because the type is too small, the editor will not read it. Make sure the synopsis is grammatically correct and that there are no typos. Use strong, evocative language.

4. If this is a synopsis for a romance, you need to focus on the romance. You need to make sure the reader understands why this hero is so important to this heroine or why this particular heroine is the perfect mate for your hero. It's a lot more than saying he's a rich, single bachelor. Keep in mind things like "soul mate", and why this man has remained single all this time until he meets "her". You need to show the changing and developing relationship between the hero and heroine in the synopsis.

5. Marketing Hooks. If your story contains some of the tried and true like, marriage of convenience, secret baby or cowboys - get that in there. Make sure that stands out. If you think your story has something less attractive (suppose your hero is an ex con or a football star) keep that low key, write your synopsis around that so you downplay it. It might work great in the actual manuscript but could scare an editor if she/her thought it wouldn't work.

6. You need to know your characters and get that across to your readers. You need to know their motivation and their goals. You need to get that in the synopsis without giving too many details. Not an easy task! Your synopsis should be straightforward, not much room for backstory.

7. Make sure the tone is appropriate to your story. If you're writing romantic comedy, your synopsis needs to contain humor; a romantic suspense story synopsis needs to be filled with intrigue, etc.

8. A synopsis is one of the hardest things you'll ever write, but it will make writing your novel easier because it’s your guide to what happens. You will know what's going to happen and where your characters will end up. Even writers who write the book first and then the synopsis, always have a synopsis even if it’s in their heads.

9. Can the actual manuscript ever change from the synopsis? Yes and no. Not in a major way but certainly in some smaller not as important events. If you think your change will make the story stronger, you need to do it no matter what is in the synopsis, but then go back and rework it so when you send it to the next editor, it’s true to the story.

10. The standard length of a synopsis for a category length romance novel is 2 pages single spaced or 5 double. Some historical or regencies novels allow a 10 page synopsis. For a short story you wouldn't do a synopsis at all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bringing in the Senses By Beverly Oz

Originally Published in the TWRP Greenhouse

Sensory Detail: Bringing in the Senses By Beverly Oz

Ever run across the sweet, heady smell of honeysuckle while driving in the country? Can you close your eyes and visualize the vibrant reds and pinks of a sunset, or the pale greens of a newly budded tree? Can you imagine the brush of a feather against the backside of your knee? When you think about licking a freshly cut lemon and allowing its tangy juice to linger on your tongue, does your mouth water? Does the sound of honking of horns and screeching of tires make you cringe?

Can you smell it?

Can you taste it?

Can you hear it?

Can you see it?

Now think about what you've just read and how those words affected your senses? Did you smell the honeysuckle? See the reds, oranges, and greens? How about that lemon? Could you almost taste it?
Sensory Response

The human mind reacts to sensory suggestions, even suggestions taken in through written words. After a person experiences a sound, touch, taste, etc., the mere mention of the experienced sense can quickly evoke a sensory response.

For a writer, like myself, this is powerful information. Why? Because I know I can control what my readers see, smell, taste, hear, and feel simply by choosing one word over another. For example, consider the impact of changing just a few words in the following sentence.

Can you feel it?

I rubbed my hand against the furry softness of the cashmere sweater.

I rubbed my hand against the slick, almost wet, skin of the snake.

I opened the door and was nearly knocked down by the oppressive heat and humidity.

I opened the door and was nearly knocked down by the frigid north wind.

When I write, I carefully sprinkle in sensory words to achieve greater reader involvement. I want the readers to experience what my heroines and heroes experience and become immersed in my story. If I can coax the people who buy my books to completely lose themselves in my books' make- believe worlds, maybe they'll come back for more.


Reprinted with permission from

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who likes to PITCH?

TWRP On The Road

Melbourne, Florida – November 16, 2013

Who likes to PITCH?

Do you get that rolling sensation in your gut and have to clear your voice to get the frog out? Well, next time, relax. Taking pitches can be almost as nerve racking for the editor. For me, I struggle with wanting the authors to be comfortable. I am as anxious as the author is. I want the pitch to go so well that I fall in love with the book immediately and request it straight away!

Last week, I was invited to participate in the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance Super Saturday event hosted by President, Marian Griffin. Rhonda Penders, the Editor-in-Chief of The Wild Rose Press and CallieLynn Wolfe, Senior Editor of the Black Rose paranormal division were the RWA Chapter’s special guests. Along with a few aspiring authors, we also met with several who have books presently contracted or already published with the Wild Rose Press.

The morning began with Rhonda, Callie, and I participating in a critique session. Some brave souls volunteered their query letters and the first two pages of their manuscripts for our comments. I think we were all pleased with the intimate setting. It made sharing easier and more effective. The most interesting part of having the opening of the manuscripts critiqued by three different editors was not what we agreed about—it was what we didn’t—demonstrating that some issues are a matter of personal taste. Rhonda summed it up and made an excellent point when she read a couple of opening paragraphs from WRP published books to demonstrate how important it is to have strong openings to hook the reader.

After a lovely lunch with what seemed like a stream of nonstop desserts, Rhonda presented a workshop on publishing in today's ever changing market and opened the floor to questions from the audience. A year ago, I blogged about that subject here Behind The Garden Gate. Since then we’ve done quite a few blogs about the industry changes. While Rhonda discussed the various options now available to authors in publishing and what an author should consider in order to find the right fit,
Callie and I took some wonderful pitches. I swear, no one cried, and we requested some or advised changes to plot points. Everyone, including me, seemed to have a great time during the pitches. There’s nothing like having a group of people who all love reading and writing come together and share their interests.

If you get a chance, I recommend that you join a critique group. If one doesn’t fit, find another. Set up plotting sessions with each other. Set up a chat room. The best thing you can do for yourself is help another writer. When you share with someone else, you’ll be surprised how much you learn in return.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Frances Sevilla is a paranormal editor with The Wild Rose Press.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What is a synopsis?

What is a synopsis?
When I respond to a query, I ask the author to submit two things: a partial manuscript (usually three chapters if novel-length) or the full story (if a short), and a synopsis. It’s the second part of the request that seems to cause the most trouble. Some people don’t understand what a synopsis is. Maybe they even wonder why I am asking for a synopsis, wasn’t that bit in the query letter enough? Sorry, folks, that’s just the teaser. It doesn’t tell me who these characters are, why I should care about them, and how their story progresses and ends.

A synopsis is just a summary of what your story is about. It lets me, the editor, know where you are going in terms of major plot points and character development (the emphasis being here on “major”; I don’t need to know every single thing, e.g. the hero cracks his knuckles or the heroine had a pet pig when she was eight, unless that’s a important story detail for some reason). It can help me decide if your story is a good “fit”, or, if it’s an almost “fit”, where it could be reworked. It‘s also a reference tool (for both novel-length and shorter works, including full stories).   

For a novel, the synopsis should be about two or three pages single-spaced, longer if double-spaced. Put it into a separate document, not the body of the email or in the story itself. Don’t forget to title it (e.g. Twice Is Not Enough Synopsis) and name the file accordingly (e.g. Twice_synopsis).

One last point: in a synopsis, it’s ok to tell, not show!

Claudia Fallon
Wild Rose Press Editor

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Rifle Approach to Story Writing

The Rifle Approach to Story Writing
No matter the length of your story, as you create it, the characters and setting, keep the RIFLE approach in mind and you'll never go wrong.
Thinking as a reader, consider all those oldies but goodies residing on your keeper shelf or—in my case—shelves. This is why we return to them time and again, like old friends, or that worn, comfortable pair of slippers or that softest blankie. They bring us joy, keep us on the edge of our seat, or make us laugh right from the toes.

Rrealistic. If the reader can't make sense of things—either the plot line or the story arc—they'll give up and toss the book against the nearest wall. It doesn't matter if you yourself have climbed each and every step to the top of the Empire State Building, unless the hero or heroine is in grave danger—or about to propose [or accept], the reader won't get it. 

I—intriguing. Intrigue is what keeps those pages turning. This doesn't necessarily mean danger or suspense or evil spirits. I'm talking about keeping the reader invested in what happens to the protagonists along the way. Let's go back to Suzy Scout who's climbing the ESB because Tommy Trueheart, erstwhile and much younger brother of Tess, is at the top, holding the biggest, fattest, sparkliest diamond in one hand [and bouquet of fire red tulips in the other]. Suzy knows right down to her tidy whities the sparkly will fit her finger like strawberry jam layers over crunchy peanut butter and those posies will smell of the coming spring. Unfortunately she's beginning to wheeze and if she doesn't get to the top by the time the building closes, she'll end up in a dark stairway and never get the ring. Maybe she's turned down Tom Terrific too many times to count and this is it baby—fish or cut bait.

F—fun. If it's not fun to read [or write] why keep doing it?

L—logical? It might be realistic but is the setting or are the character[s]’  actions logical? Do they make sense? If you were Tommy Trueheart, would you give the lovely Sue one more chance or would you have given up long ago and kicked her to the curb? On the other hand, maybe Suzy saw her mother, Magda the Magnificent, change husbands like most women go through silk panties and our Sue fears she'll break Tom's heart when push comes to shove. Of course the reader knows [because we the author has shown not told throughout the story] that old Magda is an ego-centric witch who can't settle for one man because none will ever totally please her. Clearly she never met Rhett Butler or Walt Longmire, but I digress.

E—entertaining. Have it move, keep those pages turning. By the top floor have the reader gasping and turning blue as Suzy takes her last breath, or feel their their hands freeze as Tommy clutches the tulips to his heart as he waits at the exit door for the love of his life to appear.

And that, dear bloggers, is the RIFLE approach to writing.
Best wishes for a safe and lovely holiday coming up.
Kathy Cottrell                        

Kathy Cottrell
Senior Editor, the Wild Rose Press

PSWA, July 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Carving Into Your Manuscript By Layla Chase

*Originally published in the Greenhouse on the Wild Rose Press website

Carving Into Your Manuscript By Layla Chase

At holiday meals, have you ever noticed the fuss about who gets the honor of carving the turkey or goose? Expertise is involved and most usually profess not wanting to be in charge of the meal's centerpiece. Don't we all suspect the carver secretly enjoys the attention and resulting accolades? We as writers are the masters or mistresses of our creative masterpieces-our manuscripts. So, let's all grab a sharp knife and dig in.

Let's work on word editing and rearranging sentences to elicit the maximum effect.

Gerunds-cut to the real meat of the sentence when describing a character's movements

 EX: Running into the house, she dialed John's number on her cell phone. (Ouch-shouldn't she dial 911. My first impression was the character literally hitting the outside wall.)

 EX: Opening the door, he flipped on the light and drew his gun. (Almost sounds like the character has 3 hands, which is okay if this is science fiction and he's an alien.)
Cause & effect-Slice into the middle of the sentence to retrieve the event that initiates a reaction.

 EX: The sound increased when James swung open the door to his house.(effect before cause)

 EX: When James opened the front door, the sound of the lawnmower intensified.(cause then effect)
Power words-save those luscious words for the end where they give the most flavor

 EX: The night was noisy, then Caleb felt the danger all around him. (telling and vague)

 EX: The croaking frogs and whirring cicadas quieted, the hairs on his arms prickled, then Caleb sensed danger. (specific details and ends with power word)

 EX: The mangled corpse was covered with blood from head to toe.(passive)

 EX: Every square inch of the mangled corpse dripped with blood. (pumped verb, power word at end)

 EX: Blood dripped from every square inch of the mangled corpse. (another power word)
Overuse of adverbs-think of them as a spice that should be sprinkled, not shaken. Use of words ending in -ly often indicates a weak verb needs to be boosted.

 EX: Maddie walked smartly across the room.

 EX: Maddie strode across the room.

 EX: Mr. Jensen talked softly to his wife about the movie.

 EX: Mr. Jensen whispered to his wife about the movie.

With the inclusion of these tips in your self-editing process, you'll have your manuscript lean and mean in no time. Happy carving!

Reprinted with permission from

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Hi everyone, Halloween is almost upon us and there will be an assortment of creatures, I’m sure, making the rounds.  Creatures that you our authors create.  How cool is that?

Characters come in all shapes and sizes, different cultures, unique mannerisms, and with some of the characters we see on the Faery Rose line, they have their on unique physical DNA. It is up to the individual author to create a hero, heroine, and secondary characters, as well as a villain who will draw a reader’s attention and keep it throughout the book.

As an editor and an avid reader, I can tell you if the characters are not up to par, you will lose my interest completely. I want the hero and heroine to pop out of the book, even if they might be beta characters and not alpha.  I as well as a reader want to get inside the characters heads, know their needs, their desires, and their overall insight into what is happening in the plot.

That is why it is important to have a good grasp of Point of View, and to make sure your hero, heroine, and all the cast stay in character throughout the book. When they do something that is totally off for them there should be a good reason. A hero who is quiet and keeps his thoughts close to his chest would not go off on a talkative spiel. Now that is not to say he might not in an emotional moment yell, rage, stomp, or anything else the male population might do when upset.  You see what I mean? You are showing your reader that this character is human and will act out of character when hurt, provoked, worried, or when injured.

Be true to your characters. Don’t twist them in ways they don’t want to go.  I can assure you it will backfire on you.  An author I know was writing a scene from the heroine’s point of view and it stalled out.  She changed to the hero’s and it moved into sync with the rest of the book.  Remember these are creatures, characters, and plots you create, but you have an obligation to your readers to make sure you deliver the goods when it comes to giving them what they want. 

So write to your heart’s content but be true to your characters and your readers. You will find yourself less likely to pull your hair out.

Amanda Barnett/Senior Editor/Faery Rose.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Busy Author’s Guide to Writing Blurbs

*Originally Published on The Wild Rose Press website

The Busy Author’s Guide to Writing Blurbs By Bronwyn Storm

I’ve been in the publishing business for a few years now, and I’ve come to one, undeniable, unarguable conclusion: writers are insane. Loco. Crazy. What else explains our need to take a question like “What if a woman fell in love with her neighbour?” turn it into a story worth a few thousand words, then break the whole thing down to a two-hundred word blurb? Insanity, I tell you…insanity with a colourful blend of masochism, despair, and crazy optimism (with a nice merlot to compliment the complex mixture and bring out the delicate yet fragrant tone of persistence).

Blurbs. It’s no coincidence the word sounds a lot like “blerg” and reminds me of the same sound you make when throwing up. Six letters: b-l-u-r-b-s that can send the most stoic writer racing for the safe comfort of a dark, quiet corner. Goodness knows, just the thought of having to write one makes me want to crawl under the desk and stuff chocolate like an unhinged chipmunk.

Blurbs are intimidating. Just how does one take an eight-thousand or eighty-thousand-word story and condense it into a two-hundred word paragraph that will entice readers? I mean, without including the sentence “read this book and I’ll pay you one hundred dollars!”

After months of research (by which I mean drank a lot, read a lot, and found a myriad of ways I could convince my husband that chocolate was a food group, and worthy of being a breakfast meal), I realized really good blurbs have a formula…of sorts. Sorry, guys, no easy answers, but thankfully, there are some cheat sheets.

To make this as easy as possible, we’ll break it into three parts.


In writing a blurb, an author need to answer six questions: What does the main character want/what is the status quo? How does it change? How does it get worse? How does the character try to fix it? How do the character’s actions in question #4 make things worse? What is at stake for the character?

So, let’s take the questions, one at a time, and use one of my stories Love in Miami, as the example. Got your pen and paper? Good. Let’s do this together. I’ve put notes under the questions to help you figure out the answer you need.

1) What does the main character want/what is the status quo?
(note to author: you need to set up the jumping point for the story, to ground the reader in “life as-is” so they have a sense of “what life may be.”)

Angel Baxter wants some peace and quiet from the constant bickering of her nana and their next- door neighbour.

2) How does it change?

(note to author: change for the better—remember, story is about conflict. This is the perceived high point, from which the poor character’s life will turn into a roller-coaster and readers will happily strap in for the ride.)

The neighbor’s super-hot grandson, Harry Garret, shows up. Now, Angel has a potential ally, and if she’s lucky, a date for Saturday night.

3) How does it get worse?
(note to author: this is where is starts going bad. Enter the conflict.)
Neither Nana or Harry’s grandfather is willing to budge or say sorry.

4) How does the character try to fix it?
(note to author: your character wants to get back to the way life was at question one or two. They want to fix the problem.)
She and Harry make plans to go out together and come up with a way to bring the feuding seniors together.

5) How does the character’s decision in question #4 make things worse?
(note to author: ramp up the conflict. Think about the crisis that befalls the character just before the story climax. What happens?)
Before Angel and Harry can broker a date, let alone a peace treaty, Angel’s nana decides to sprinkle environmentally unfriendly fertilizer all over the neighbour’s lawn. This, of course, completely irritates Harry and doesn’t bode well for Angel ever getting a date.

6) What is at stake for the character?
(note to author: here’s the crux of the story, and here’s your chance to tell readers why they should care. What is the big loss, the heartbreak waiting?)

At the start of the story, the only thing at stake was Angel’s peace of mind. Now, she’s about to lose a super cute guy AND her sanity.

Thanks to the questions, we now have the following framework for our story blurb: Angel Baxter wants some peace and quiet from the constant bickering of her nana and their next-door neighbour. The neighbour’s super-hot grandson, Harry Garret, shows up. Now, Angel has a potential ally, and if she’s lucky, a date for Saturday night. [But] Neither Nana or Harry’s grandfather is willing to budge or say sorry. She [Angel] and Harry make plans to go out together and come up with a way to bring the feuding seniors together. Before Angel and Harry can broker a date, let alone a peace treaty, Angel’s nana decides to sprinkle environmentally unfriendly fertilizer all over the neighbour’s lawn. This, of course, completely irritates Harry and doesn’t bode well for Angel ever getting a date. At the start of the story, the only thing at stake was Angel’s peace of mind. Now, she’s about to lose a super cute guy AND her sanity.


The above blurb is a good framework (if I do say so myself, and heck, it’s my article, so I’m going to say so). I’m under two hundred words and I have the main core conflicts of the story. As nice as that all is, there are a few things I need to look at: first off, we need some bridge sentences to connect the ideas. Secondly, the writing has to be tightened. Third, well, it’s a nice start, but this blurb is so boring, it could be used non-medical alternative for insomnia pills.

If you’ve been working on your blurb, then you may see the same issues in your work. How does a writer fix all this? In a word: details.

The way you use words to tweak your blurb is what will give readers an idea of the kind of story they’re getting themselves into. So, let’s go back to Love in Miami, and kick around some ideas.
There’s a few things I want potential readers to know when they read the blurb. Things like: Angel is Southern. I want the blurb to have that great Southern drawl, for readers to think of mint juleps and hot, humid nights. However, I DO NOT want to overdo it. Southern drawl is brilliant, readers hearing duelling banjos, is not.

Secondly, readers need to know that Nana is wonderfully eccentric, the kind of don’t-sass-me-take- charge-say-what-she-wants senior citizen that I want to be when I grow up. Readers also need to know that Harry is a gardener.

Most importantly, I want people to know the story is a romantic comedy. This is the kind of story that will make readers smile and laugh, a light-hearted break from the day. So, I don’t want to use strong-association words or terms (like “Her life depends on…”), and I don’t want to be heavy- handed.

With a few tweaks, this is what I end up with:

The move from Georgia to Miami was supposed to bring peace and calm, but for the past three months, Angel Baxter’s been playing reluctant mediator to her nana and their eighty-five year-old neighbour. Between ripped up azalea bushes, wrecked bird baths, and her grandmother prancing across the lawn like a deranged pixie, Angel’s nerves are frayed and she’s got more problems than a three-legged cat in a dog pound. But help shows up in the sexiest form: Harry Garret, the neighbor’s gorgeous grandson. The drool-worthy gardener offers his hand in the negotiations, and the rest of his body on a date at a French restaurant. But when her nana’s pranks go too far, will Angel lose out on more than peace and quiet, but on a chance at love, as well?

So, just like you when you’re writing your blurb, this is my stop and check time. What do I love about this blurb: I’ve cut down the word count (from 159 to 132), and I’ve managed to get in the details I wanted (Angel being Southern, etc.). I love the “deranged pixie” line because that really describes the grandmother, and I adore the “three-legged cat” because it aptly describes how Angel feels. The last line is good for letting readers know that more than a lawn’s at stake if things don’t get resolved. I think I’ve done a satisfactory job of letting readers know it’s a light story and a comedy (after all, deranged pixies in horrors/dark stories don’t usually prance).

What I’m not sure of: the “rest of his body.” I’m not sure if it reads the way I want. This is where my crit partners (and yours, when you’re reviewing your blurb) will come in handy. Get people who love your genre to read your blurb. Get people who DON’T love your genre to read your blurb. It’ll be a great way for you to figure out what is working and what isn’t in your paragraph.

If you’re your blurb comes back with red marks all over the place, it’s okay. Go back to your questions. Did you hit the main conflicts and plot points? Did you match tone/voice of the blurb with the story?


If you’re having troubles writing a blurb that really nails your story idea, try writing the non-blurb. If your story is a dark, serious one, try a paragraph that describes it as a farce. Perhaps by writing what your story isn’t, you can figure out what your story is.

If we take the above blurb and twist the details (changes are in caps), we get:

The move from NEW YORK to Miami was supposed to bring peace and calm, but for the past three months, Angel Baxter’s been ON THE RECEIVING END OF CRUEL PRANKS. Between ripped up azalea bushes, wrecked bird baths, and POISONED OAK TREES, Angel’s nerves are SHOT AND SHE’S THINKING OF MOVING, JUST TO GET AWAY FROM THE UNKNOWN PRANKSTER. But help shows up in the MOST UN-EXPECTED WAY: Harry Garret, the NEW NEIGHBOR NEXT- DOOR. The DETECTIVE offers his HELP IN FINDING THE CULPRIT. SOON, AFTERNOON MEETINGS TURN INTO ROMANTIC EVENINGS. But when ANGEL’S KIDNAPPED BY THE STALKER, will SHE lose out on MORE THAN A CHANCE AT LOVE, BUT ON HER LIFE, AS WELL?

Hopefully, you can see by changing the wording, the job occupation, and excluding certain characters, the tone of the story shifts dramatically. This no longer reads like a light-hearted, funny story, but something far darker. Remember, the questions will get you the framework, the details will give you the voice.

Back to Love in Miami. As you can see, there’s still work to do. I want to think about that fourth sentence. If my crit partners and editor give the okay, then I’ll leave it. If not, it’ll have to go through the grinder, once more. But that’s what makes us writers so determined (and insane). Going back and editing…and editing…did I mention the editing?

My fellow crazies, may your blurbs write themselves, and may you never lack for chocolate. And if you can only have one, then may you have closets of chocolate (heck, the blurbs have never written themselves before, why should they start now)?

Reprinted with permission.  Bronwyn Storm is a super-hero in training—hey, one day being a klutz will be a superpower…if she doesn’t break anything vital in the meantime. When not tripping over her feet, she writes for The Wild Rose Press and plays butler and cuddler to her furry boys. Check out her website and drop her a line, she could use the excuse to stop petting the dogs and cats. ©2010 all rights reserved.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blurbs, blurbs and more blurbs...

Take a walk with me...imagine if you will a bookstore, filled to the brim with romances or the unlimited choices you can access on your Kindle.  What do you look at first?  Title? Cover? What draws you to pick up or click on a choice?  I'm a very visual person and I admit that the first thing I look at is cover art.  In fact I have been known to head to a bookstore and describe in detail the cover of a book I am looking for much to the chagrin of the poor person behind the counter who would rather have author or title.

BUT, what draws me in and has me turning the pages is the blurb.  I may pick up the book due to its artwork but I buy it based upon what the author has chosen to share with me on the back cover (or inside flap). 

A well written blurb is one of your best marketing tools.  Readers want to be enticed, lured in, romanced if you will.  I know I want to be tantalized, given just enough hints to let me know what excitement (romance, mystery, magic, etc.) is contained within the pages.

I know there are authors out there who HATE writing blurbs and look at it as a punishment worse than a week without coffee and chocolate.  I'm one of the odd ones who love putting blurbs together.  Figuring out the right "recipe" to blend character, plot and action together into a final product.  Or it's a bit like putting a puzzle together.  You need to make all the pieces fit in just the right way. 

Take a look at the books on your shelves, beside table, Kindle library.  The ones that you chose not because they are your favorite author or series, but because the blurb drew you in.  Take a look at the blurbs in the catalog at 

Say your story is about a sexy werewolf who falls in love with a preschool teacher who is afraid of all things hairy due to a bad childhood experience. 

You could say: 

Sam smith the werewolf falls in love with Heidi Jones a preschool teacher who is afraid of the paranormal.  Will Sam be able to change her mind?

Or you could say:

Sam Smith never thought that he would be the werewolf who falls in love with a mortal.  Especially a mortal who is afraid of not only shape shifters but of the dark as well. 

Heidi Jones thinks that Sam is hot and sexy but she cannot overlook his werewolf status.  Shifter's killed her grandparents and she has never forgotten her fear or overcome her mistrust of things that go bump in the night.

What is a werewolf to do?  Sam is determined to show Heidi that werewolves can be trusted but can he rein in his passion and desire long enough to take things slowly?  And will Heidi learn that some things that live in the dark are worth the wait?

That of course was very tongue in cheek. But the differences are there. If your book is a romance you want to introduce your reader to the hero, the heroine, their conflict and what they need to do to overcome it.  You can hint at possible solutions but you don't want to ruin the story or mystery for the reader.

If your story is not a romance you want to introduce your main characters, what the conflict is and what needs to be done. Hint at the action, the tension, what motivates your characters.    

Think of it again as a recipe.  A dash of hero, a splash of heroine, a pinch of conflict (internal, external or both), a stir of action and a hint of the final product. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Call for Submission - Summer Heat - Crimson Rose

Before winter arrives in the United States, let’s take one last shot at Summer.  Take a moment to think about how a hot, humid summer night makes you feel.  The evening air is so close that something feels as if it is just around the corner.  Your skin is moist and almost feels as if it is someone else’s.  The cicada song gets louder and feels as if it could overwhelm you.  Doesn’t that sound for the perfect setting for some kind of crime?

Crimson Rose announces a submission call.

“Summer Heat”

•             Spice level:  Sweet to Hot
•             Length:   7,500 to 55,000 words

Crime and emotions seem to spike on hot summer nights.  Bring them together and the results are explosive.  Let your late night imaginations run rampant.  It can be any kind of mystery or action suspense.  The hero and heroine can be the investigators, or the victims.  The only requirement is that the heat of a summer night must be a key role.  We even welcome manuscripts taking place in a foreign country.

Submit your synopsis and query to after checking out the Crimson guidelines on our website. In the subject line include: Summer Heat Series and the Title of your manuscript.  For questions or clarification, please feel free to contact Lori Graham, Senior Editor for Crimson Rose, at lori (at)

Get a jump on summer and start thinking hot now.  We look forward to seeing just how far and how clever your imagination can be.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Turning Points of Romance: Keep Them Wanting More

Turning Points of Romance: Keep Them Wanting More

I want to talk about turning points in a romance because I sometimes see potentially great stories that lack structure. No, we don’t want cookie cutter stories but in order to keep the reader interested, the plot moving, and the conflict high, we need a balance of goal, motivation, conflict, and turning points.

Depending on the line you’re targeting, your story begins with the characters in their ordinary world.  Then something happens —the inciting incident—that brings the characters together and forces their interaction. For example, if you’ve seen the movie While You Were Sleeping, you know the inciting incident is when the man of our heroine’s dreams falls in front of a train and she rescues him. Her path in the story is changed.

The first turning point, usually by the end of the third chapter in a full-length novel, is when the family believes she is their injured son’s fiancé and she makes the decision to let them believe it because the grandmother has a weak heart. This turns the story in a new direction. She’s caught and though she knows it’s wrong, she wants the closeness of his family, something she’s never had and desperately desires.

The second turning point (or middle) is when, after spending time with the family and enjoying the love and unity, she meets the brother. Again, the story is turned in a new direction. He’s suspicious and she must dive deeper into a pit of lies even as she begins to fall for him. She thought she wanted one thing but now she’s not so sure.

The third turning point comes very close to the end. This is when the “man of her dreams” wakes up and she’s forced to follow through with her lie of an engagement. She’s getting everything she thought she originally wanted. The story reaches a pivotal point and the heroine must make a new decision.

The black moment is another turning point. This is when the character thinks all is lost. Our heroine doesn’t love the original man but loves his family. She doesn’t want to break their hearts, but she can’t go through with the wedding and spills the beans at the altar. She leaves the chapel having lost both the family she needs and the man she loves.

The conclusion comes last. Everything is wrapped up, all is forgiven and the character lives happily ever after. In a romance, this is when the I loves yous are said. In our story, the hero and his family track her down at work and he proposes.

Once the I love yous are said and everyone is happy, the romance plot is done. I’m seeing a lot of those I loves yous said early. Romance readers need their heroes and heroines tortured with internal and external conflicts. Happiness too soon will bore the reader into putting the book down. Romance readers read for that happy ever after moment that comes only after the characters have had their hearts ripped apart.

In other words, don’t solve the conflict too soon and always leave them wanting more.

Diana Carlile
Sr. Editor, Scarlet Rose
The Wild Rose Press
Cover Art Design

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What’s In a Name? By Masha Holl

Originally publishing in the Greenhouse on the Wild Rose Press website

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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Theme By Megan Kerans

Originally published in the Greenhouse on the Wild Rose Press website

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tips from the "Queen of Clichés"

If you have ever written any of these three things—oops! Sorry, there are four—please know I will catch you if I can. I may be the Queen of Clichés, but I still wield a pretty mean wet noodle. I have seen them misused so often in the galleys I process that I now check for them regularly.
He sunk into a chair.
Thunder rolled and lightening flashed.
It’s alright as long as you do it with flare.
No. these are not all right, no matter how you do them.
Let’s work in backwards order. “Flair” is the spelling you want in the third sentence above. For a character to do something with flare might indicate you have a firebug on your hands. And while we’re on the subject, how often do you use the word “flare”? Don’t avoid this question! I have seen it more than a dozen times in one book…his nostrils flared, her temper flared, his lust flared, her skirt flared, his passion flared, her nostrils flared, his anger flared, her eyes flared, etc. etc. etc. It’s a wonder it all fits in and doesn’t combust, with so much flaring going on.
“Alright” has not yet received official acceptance as a replacement for “all right.” The two-word version is still preferred. Like it or lump it. That’s all I will say about that.
And “sink, sank, have or has sunk” has been burned into my brain since sixth grade: Today I sink, yesterday I sank, and before that I had sunk” whether into a chair, a slough of despond, or beneath the waves of the ocean. It’s like “swim, swam, have or has swum” and “sing, sang, have or has sung”—Yesterday I sang and swam and sank into bed happy.
As for thunder and—What is it that flashes and then you hear the rumble? Oh, yes. Lightning. No “e” in the whole word. None. Non-e. Of course there is a word “lightening,” but it’s related to the idea of making things lighter or more clear: “Here, let me lighten your load,” or “Let me enlighten you.”
While I’ve got you by the ear, so to speak, let me mention just one more thing, on the editing/reading side of my life: How weary I am of reading the same phrases time after time in almost every book when we get to the more passionate scenes. Is there truly no other way to describe them? Does everyone have exactly the same moves? Maybe I missed the memo that said, “This is it. Use these descriptive words whenever your characters are getting it on.” Fingers and tongues “tangle” and “trace” and “tease…” I usually quit reading by then, from sheer boredom, and pick up again after they have gone “over the edge.” In processing galleys I also check for “peak” (frequently found in said love scenes) vs. “peek” and find them often overused and/or misused and occasionally substituted for “pique.” My high school English teacher used to groan over the song lyrics of her youth rhyming “spoon” and “moon” and “June” and “croon.” Now I know why. Suffice it to say there must be descriptive words in the dictionary that would give your writing more individuality and flair rather than sounding like you copied the scene out of the last romance you read and merely substituted your characters’ names.

My apologies if the above sounds harsh. But remember—I don’t deal with nearly as many books per week as those readers who go through at least five books a week, some as many as twenty-five or more per week, so they say. Do you think they will not notice these things? Do you think they won’t take note of your name and figure they’ll look for an author with more variety in her vocabulary? Keep a dictionary and a thesaurus handy and try using one new word per book. Too much to ask?

Nancy Swanson- Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why Bother to Write? By Betty Hanawa

*Originally published on the Wild Rose Press website

Why Bother to Write? By Betty Hanawa

The air is sweet with perfume of springtime blossoms. There's a cool breeze blowing no longer holding the sharp bite of winter. It's time to be enjoying the outside before Summer's heat and humidity makes everything miserable. The last thing you want to do right now is sit at a blasted keyboard and try to write a book.

Why bother?

On the other hand, you've dealt with cranky co-workers all day, came home to a family who has the audacity to demand supper and clean clothes. The last thing you have time for is to write on a book that odds say is never going to be published anyway. So why bother?

But wait! The Muse showed up with a perfect scene. You finish cleaning up the supper dishes and head to the keyboard. The words are flowing. But the youngest kid leans against your shoulder and you realize he's got a fever. The teenager screams from the family room that the dog just puked up all the corn chips the teenager thought it was fun to toss so the dog could catch them. Naturally, you have to clean it up because the teenager will puke herself if she attempts the job. Now you've got a headache. You might as well go to bed after taking care of all the family's needs. The Muse will be gone anyway.

Why bother to try to write?

Because you have to do something for yourself.

Everyone needs a creative aspect in their life to make their soul sing. You're reading this newsletter because your soul needs to write, whether it's a journal you keep for your own self-pleasure, articles for newsletters, or a story with characters you've created and love.

But how do you get time for yourself to create with the Muse?

There's not much you can do about the cranky co-workers and the day job, except to firmly remind yourself what happens at the job, stays at the job. You're not paid enough to worry about the dratted day job on your home time.

Household chores - a teenager and a spouse can each make a dinner meal once a week. A four year- old can set the table and help with clean-up. And, yes, teenagers and spouse can be introduced to Ms. Washer and Mr. Dryer and be responsible for laundry. Everyone lives there. Why are you the only one doing the household chores? The teenager made the dog sick, she can clean it up - then clean up her own mess.

Granted a feverish kid needs your attention. But once the kid is dosed up and put to bed, there's no reason for you to provide entertainment. A sick child needs sleep. Check on him once in awhile, but it's amazing how quickly a child gets well when bed rest and nothing but bed rest is enforced.

To fill your own creative need, you must get back to the Muse

Now here's the thing about the Muse. If you make the time to show up at the keyboard, the Muse shows up, too. It might take awhile. You might have to force yourself to write garbage for a while - which is really hard if you haven't discovered yet how to kill that stupid Internal Editor who sneers at any imperfection. But, if you write enough garbage, eventually the Muse gets curious, comes back, and says "Here, let me help."

The Muse always, always appears when you sit down to write. You've all heard of the tools to help you write while away from the computer. In addition to a laptop, there's the AlphaSmart and its companions The Neo and The Dana. If those are out of your price range, there's always the standard yellow tablet and pen or pencil.

The Muse needs the invitation to join you.

The invitation gets issued when you sit to write. If you deny your creative urge to write, you'll get frustrated, then resentful, and you become the cranky one your coworkers and family complain about.

For your own peace, for the peace of those who love you, take time from each day to write. They'll complain at the beginning, but don't give in. Your coworkers and boss need to learn that your time away from the office is your time, not theirs. Your family will not only learn to respect your private time, but gain their own self-respect by learning skills that will serve them in their own lives.

When you don't grant yourself the self-respect to value your writing, how do you expect respect from anyone else?

Spring is the time of new life. Give your writing a new life. Set writing goals of pages per week and make those goals despite all the distractions life throws at you. Be firm and make sure the family and friends respect your time for yourself. Getting them in the habit of leaving you alone now makes it handy when you're published and have unmovable deadlines.

And if the warm Spring breezes and blooming flowers are completely irresistible?

Take your writing tablet and pencil outside and invite the Muse to join you. Start writing and the Muse will come.