Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Researching Your Manuscript By Roni Adams

*originally published in the Greenhouse on the Wild Rose Press Website

Researching Your Manuscript By Roni Adams

From the time, the first writer put chisel to stone and began to write, writers have had to do research. Even the most imaginative of fiction writers has to do some type of research. In the pre- internet days, research was a long, tedious process. I can picture authors hunched over books at the library and studying articles about different parts of the world. I remember being awed by an article I once read from an author who had traveled to Scotland to do hands-on research. I thought that was the coolest thing. But of course only a few decades ago, how else could you completely "get" the feeling for what you are writing about.

Research on the internet

Nowadays of course, the World Wide Web takes us anywhere we want to go. You need research on Scotland, you can Google the country and find whatever you need. You can find pictures, and even small videos. No need to spend thousands of dollars to fly there.
Research with people

I've spent my fair share of time surfing the internet for research purposes, but one of my best research journeys ended not only in the information I sought but also in some lifetime friendships. I was writing a series of books set in Texas. In the second book in the series, I wanted the heroine to be caught in a storm and have to seek shelter (hey I'm a romance writer-it's cliché, but it's what we do). I live in Upstate NY. You want storms? We got snowstorms, icestorms and combinations of the two. But this book is in Texas and I knew nothing about the weather other than it's hot and dry. So I started searching the web for Texas weather information. But what I found wasn't enough. I needed a first-hand account of storms. Personal stories. The kind you only get from, well folks who live there. But I knew no one in Texas.

Then I stumbled into the RWA's site and that led me to the State of Texas. Pure luck led me to click on San Antonio Romance Authors ( I looked through their site and found a link to a woman in charge of membership. I figured I shouldn't bug the President, but the membership coordinator seemed tame enough. I sent her a note and said that I was a writer in NY who needed some first-hand Texas weather info and did she know of anyone in her chapter willing to email me some info. Her response was so warm and so sweet, that we began emailing Soon she told me that I should just become a long-distance member of SARA. I remember thinking at the time, "Why would I do that?" and "wouldn't the members think it weird to have this NY writer in their chapter?"

Friends are forever

I couldn't have been more wrong. I signed up and joined the online SARA loop. To this day I am so thankful I did. This connection has been the source not only of tremendous amounts of research, but also friendships I never would have made otherwise. Seven years later, I'm still the only NY member of the San Antonio Romance Authors, but you'd never know I don't belong.

My point in sharing this story is to tell you that research can come in many forms. It's easy to Google something and find tons of impersonal information. But the next time you need to know something, don't be afraid to reach out to another chapter in another part of the country or even overseas. You may be surprised to find you have friends out there, who are more than happy to answer your questions and ask you some of their own.

Roni is a contemporary romance author published with The Wild Rose Press. You can find information on her books and short stories by visiting her web site ( or check out where you can find all of her titles.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Words that Drive Your Editor Crazy

A single tear ran down her cheek when she looked at him walking across the room with that sexy smirk of his. He wore blue jeans, a green plaid shirt, blue argyle socks, and penny loafers. She thought to herself, despite his bad taste in clothing he looks as if he believes he is a fashion model.

If you just read that little gem (courtesy of the lovely, talented and wickedly funny Maggie Johnson) and thought hey, good story, where’s the rest?? you may not want to continue reading. *G*  But if you read it and winced—even once—you’ve come to the right blog!

A few weeks ago, while reading a newly submitted manuscript I repeatedly came across a couple of words and phrases that had me ready to bang my head on my keyboard.  It wasn’t just the repetitive nature of the writing that bothered me; it was the choice of words—they just so happen to be words that make me want to scream.

So I popped into the TWRP staff loop for a bit of water cooler chatter and asked a simple question “What’s your pet peeve word or phrase?”

I thought I’d get one or two answers but what happened next was nothing short of educational. Wow.  These ladies may be roses but they are definitely not wall flowers—my inbox was deluged with responses from the funny to the irate.

Here, in their own words, are their responses (all very tongue in cheek)..  I caution you though, there is power in these words—they may be tiny but alone or combined with others they have the power to Drive. Your. Editor. Crazy.  

Spinning/Turning on her heel --I mean who really does that??? Ballerinas and figure skaters spin on their toes; I don't know anyone who spins on their heels LOL. I realize this is supposedly showing someone making a fast or angry exit --but it stopped being original about thirty years ago.  Now it's just overused and cliché.

AT as in “this is where we’re at” or “where are you at?”  I can’t believe how much this poor little word has fallen into such improper use.  If you’re using it in dialogue to show a certain characteristic fine but otherwise…don’t do it.  No really. Don’t!!!

And of course, my big bug-a-boo: "she thought to herself" (uhh, who else is she gonna think it to?) That one drives me crazy yet I hear it and read it over and over.  And over! – Nic D’Arienzo

Mine is the word LOOK. To me, that is one of the vaguest words in the dictionary because it describes absolutely nothing.

I want a stronger verb Showing HOW or why. I often give four different scenarios to one sentence of She looked up, each showing a totally different emotion and thus proving that if you can replace look with that many scenarios, it isn't painting the picture needed in an often tense or emotional moment. – Stacy Holmes

mine is LOOKED--or glanced, or peered or stared or, well, you get the idea. I try to explain to authors that when in a specifi point of view, everything is what that person sees (or hears or tastes) so it's redundant to keep telling us they were looking at something. -Cindy Davis 

One of my drives-me-crazy peeves is the dangling participial phrase thing. You know: Going outside, the heavy, warm air overwhelmed me. – Roseann Armstrong

THAT THAT THAT THAT... I just saw THAT 500 times in the last paragraph I was editing.  But seriously how many times can you use the word in a story???   The same for THIS, and the over use of THE.  And em-dashes.  I just sent a story back where I highlighted those little buggers.  Came up over 200 times in a 300 page story. - Lill Farrell

THAT. I am truly beginning to hate the word. Then there is the ever present OMG or LOL now. If you are actually using it in a “text” within the story, fine but otherwise…give it a rest. -  Lori Graham

I had a MS last year that I sent back to the author to remove the THATs. He took out 1000. – Cindy Davis

I don't ask for THAT to be replaced anymore, not since I got the ms back with them all changed to WHICH. – Nan Swanson

When explaining it to authors, I phrase it as “putting your manuscript on a low-that diet” - Laura Kelly

THAT is definitely way over used. - Darlene Fredette

I've lately come to hate the word NOW. He washed his hands and now stood in the doorway. If he's in the doorway, it's happening now!

Also overused or incorrect use of ellipses and emdashes and verbs that tell:
Saw, Heard, Felt, Moved, Watched, Thought, Knew, Reached -         Diana Carlile

My biggest one is "he/she knew." Ex. She knew the wind was blowing. Instead of the simple sentence. "The wind was blowing." (or something more vivid than that.) I explain to authors that if we are in the character's pov, the reader already knows it is what that character knew. - Allision Byers

Mine is "exit" as a verb. Blah, blaher and blahest. No color, no emotion. I blame CSI and advise my authors to use it only in police/military reports and stage/computer directions.
Another is "smirk." Way overused, and incorrectly. It isn't a straight synonym for "smile." Look it up.

"Drug" instead of "dragged." Argh. I'll accept it in regional dialect, but not in narration, unless the narration is also in dialect.

"Peek" instead of "poke." "The gun peeked out of his pocket." Oh really? And what did the gun see when it peeked out of his pocket? - Kinan Werdski

When our POV character is observing someone else and says, "She picked at an imaginary speck of dust (or thread, etc,) on her skirt." - How does our POV character know what the other character is imagining they are picking at?

And 'a single tear tracked down her cheek' - Maybe it's possible, but does anyone really cry out of only one eye? – Ally Robertson

I hate "wearing/wore." It's such obvious scene setting, and especially when the list of clothing goes into every tiny detail. Personally, boxer or briefs is something I'd rather remain a mystery...unless that's ALL they're wearing. – Maggie Johnson

One of my pet peeves is paused. She/he paused. "blah blah blah." If the character is going to pause they need to have a body action or do something other than just pause. I have an author who uses pause to death. - Johanna Melaragno

I had a project so full of exclamation points, by the time I removed them all, the ms was two pages shorter – Kinan Werdski

I’ve just been through a ms where everybody just does everything just right just about all the time. I just hate just now. Oh and add quite to my meaningless list.

I  hate it when all the characters do is smile, giggle, grin or chuckle. Didn't realize the smirk was supposed to be an equivalent-Always thought what unpleasant people when there was a lot of smirking going on. – Anne Dugid

Walked and looked are at the top of my list, but my all time topper is the word (WAS).  Yes it can be used but if a stronger verb can be used in its place...use it.  When there are two or more (was, were) in a run it becomes jarring and confusing. – Cover artist Debbie Taylor

POV issues--inserting one character's thought or interpretation into the other character's paragraph. "as if" or "as though" are clues to this structure.

Jolene gazed upward, as if thinking of what to say next.
Thomas ran a hand over his face, feeling the rasp of his beard, and waited for her answer.

Placing more than one character's action/thought/dialogue in the same sentence or paragraph.

An author relaying emotion through one-word adverbs.
"she said abruptly" instead of "she snapped"

two-word dialogue tags that add nothing "he said" or "she asked." Better to use an action tag that shows the character doing something.  – Leanne Morgena

And that’s it!  Now keep in mind some of us have been doing this a long time, and maybe we get a little frustrated now and then.  But at the end of the day we love our authors and want them to learn from our experiences.  All the editors quoted here agreed to share their thoughts to help YOU become a better author.

Your homework now is to go back to the top and re-read Maggie's paragraph   Anything jump out at you???

Happy Writing, everyone!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ways to Make Your Writing Stronger By Kat O’Shea

Ways to Make Your Writing Stronger By Kat O’Shea

1) Cut unnecessary words. Look for adverbs (“just,” “very,” “really,” and other words ending in “ly”) and adjectives. Use strong verbs and nouns that can stand alone. Verbs do not need to be propped up with phrases or words such as “start to,” “tried to,” “began/began to,” “beginning to,” “seemed to,” “continued to,” “needed to,” “decided to,” “could,” “would,” “did,” “must,” etc. Run a search for these and delete as many as possible.

2) Search for and eliminate intruders. These are phrases like “she saw,” “she watched,” “he remembered,” “he felt,” “he touched,” etc. Write as if you are in the character’s mind. She isn’t seeing herself seeing something. That sounds a bit confusing, but when you use those expressions, you are putting a filter between your character and the reader. Readers are not experiencing the heroine’s actions themselves, rather the author is telling/describing it for them. Any time you’re tempted to write a sense word—“he heard,” “she sensed,” “she touched”—see if you can show us what she sensed, heard, or touched. Make us feel it or hear it. Drop us in the middle of the scene as if we were looking out of the character’s eyes. It’s the difference between.
 She touched the mat of curls on his chest.
 Her fingers tangled in the mat of curls on his chest.
 She felt his muscled chest press against her back as he leaned over.
 His muscled chest pressed against her back as he leaned over.

The second ones are much more sensual and immediate. They drop us into the action. Which ones make your pulse race faster? Which ones make you feel like you’re part of the action? Can you see the difference eliminating filters/intruders makes?

3) Look for passive voice—“was” and “were” are good indicators. Replace these with active verbs to make your writing sparkle. Also look at each sentence to see who is doing the acting. Is the subject taking charge or is he/she being acted upon?
 PASSIVE: The book was read by Jane.
 ACTIVE: Jane read the book.
 PASSIVE: Those books can be found in the library.
 ACTIVE: You can find those books in the library.

4) Show rather than tell. Telling is describing, whereas showing is action that demonstrates what is going on in the character’s life. If you’re not sure what this means, here’s one example:
 Telling: Sally was angry with Brad.
 Showing: Sally glared at Brad, then turned and stomped off.

The second sentence not only lets us know that she’s angry; it shows how she expressed her anger. I’m sure you can see that the second one is much stronger and more interesting.

Change any places where you have described a character’s thoughts or deeds instead of showing her in action. See the following websites for more info:

(mostly about openings, but check out her two examples of openings to see the difference between showing and telling)

5) Dialogue needs to be crisp and to the point. It must also move the story along and/or develop your characters. Eliminate the usual conversational pleasantries (hello, how are you, good-bye), filler (you know, um, you see, I guess, well), and repetitions. Concentrate on the essential information you need to convey, and make your dialogue sound better than real life. Never use dialogue to tell readers things the characters already know.

6) The main reason people read romance is to be transported to another time, place, situation. Imagining themselves in the heroine’s place, they live the story through her. In order to create that illusion, details can be extremely important. Sensory details flesh out a fully realized world. What is she smelling? Hearing? Feeling? Tasting? You don’t want to bog the story down with description, but a few well-chosen details add spice and make the setting feel real. (But do it without adding “intruders.” See # 2.)  

7) Avoid using “It was” or “There” to begin sentences; those are weak constructions. Often just cutting them takes care of the problem. Usually the rest of the sentence can stand on its own. If not, reword it.  

8) NNTT (No Need to Tell)—Many writers use body language, dialogue, or an action that shows how a character is feeling or reacting, then they follow it up with an explanation. Stick with the action, and let readers figure out how a character is feeling. If you’ve portrayed the emotion through action or dialogue, trust that your readers will understand.

9) When Lynn turned the key, the ignition clicked a few times, but the engine refused to turn over. She pounded on the steering wheel and swore, furious that her car wouldn’t start.

10) As readers, we realize she’s furious—we see her temper fit. We also know her car didn’t start, so telling us that is unnecessary.

11) Try—an online tool that checks for many of these problems.


Kat O'Shea was an editor for The Wild Rose Press. She edited on Champagne, Climbing, and the English Tea Rose lines. This article was reprinted with her permission.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Show Don’t Tell By Linda Carroll-Bradd

On my score sheet for the first contest I ever entered, a judge wrote “interesting story but you need to show, not tell what is happening”. Have any of you read or heard those same words? Did you know exactly what they meant? Neither did I. At least, not at that time.

An easy way to determine this is to ask yourself, does my sentence describe a feeling or an impression or does it describe a physical action?

TELLING – She looked confused as she read the letter.

SHOWING – Her brow wrinkled as she read the letter.

TELLING – His face was angry.

SHOWING – His jaw clenched and his lips drew into a tight line.

TELLING – Mrs. Wilson seemed stunned upon hearing the preacher’s announcement.

SHOWING – Mrs. Wilson’s jaw dropped upon hearing the preacher’s announcement.
In other instances, we may write the action but feel the need to make the situation crystal clear by explaining.

TELLING – She crossed her arms over her chest, obviously angry over the mess on the floor. (the word ‘obviously’ brings in another character’s perception of her mood)

SHOWING – She crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at the mess on the floor. (by building on the first action, you have made the emotion more concrete)

Or we distance the reader by inserting identifying words that have the character being too aware of what s/he is doing, called ‘gawking’ by some.

TELLING – Jeremy realized his finger was still on the doorbell.

SHOWING – His finger still pressed the doorbell. (deeper point of view)

TELLING – She guessed they’d both matured.

SHOWING – They’d both matured. (deeper point of view)


Linda Carroll-Bradd is an author for the Sweetheart, Faery and Cactus Rose lines. Visit her website at

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Plotting By Shayla Kersten

Have you ever planted a garden? You till the soil, fertilize it carefully and pick out the best seedlings. You plant them with care. Anticipating your bountiful harvest, you tend them daily. No weeds allowed here. Then one day, you find signs of an intruder! Little nibbles on your tender plants! A wascally wabbit! Suddenly you are preoccupied with keeping the annoying critter away from your work in progress!

Writing is like a garden

You slave over your words, trying to make them perfect, hoping to develop something beautiful. The task is difficult and time consuming, especially if you're cursed with the dratted day job syndrome. In the end, a finished manuscript is as satisfying as sitting down to a meal of your own produce or cutting a vase full of flowers from your garden.

However, distractions are as inevitable as they are unwelcome. Even worse when the distraction is of your own making.

That's what I call a plot bunny. In the middle of what you know will be the Next Great American Novel, you're pounding away at the keyboard on the perfect story. Move over, Nora! Maybe you are in the last throes of a deadline or just in the middle of a creative burst of growth. And then a plot bunny bounces through the room.

Hop, hop, hop

Nice bunny. Cute bunny. Insidious little critters, plot bunnies can show up in many ways-an errant comment from your significant other, an overheard line on the television or just a thought generated by your current work. How they show up is neither here nor there.

Plot Bunnnies demand attention

And they should get it! As a writer, you know what I mean. Maybe you call it the "Muse", maybe the "voices in your head" or maybe another term equally strange to non-writers. Whatever the name, you must catch the bunny and keep it safe.

Make notes

On anything handy and savor the opportunity. File it away to be reviewed when you're done with the current project. Writing is hard work but coming up with new plot ideas is sometimes the most difficult part. Don't let the little varmint get away!

And, who knows, maybe that fuzzy little plot bunny is the beginning of the Next Next Great American Novel.


Visit Shayla Kersten at

Friday, July 12, 2013

Growing a Scene By Layla Chase

originally published in the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

Seeds grow into what they will eventually be-a head of lettuce, a pod of peas, a daisy or a rose- through the addition of essential elements like sunshine, water, nutrients from the soil. The same is true for how you develop a scene. Start with the basic action. Add essential elements like setting, dialogue, subtext.

Watch the scene grow 

The man dropped an envelope on the desk.

"That's it?" She gripped the arm of the chair.

"This is all I could get."

"We'll make it stretch."

Now add setting details 

The tall man scuffed his boots across the wooden floor and dropped a thin envelope on the weathered desk.

"That's it?" She gripped the arm of the wooden chair until her fingers ached.

He pulled off his hat and circled it on his fingers. "This is all I could get."

She swallowed hard and thought of the numbers in the ledger book. "We'll make it stretch."

Flesh out the dialogue 

The tall man scuffed his boots across the wooden floor and dropped a thin envelope on the weathered desk.
"The deal's done."

"That's it?" She gripped the arm of the wooden chair until her fingers ached. "Was there a problem?"

"Too many herds being sold today." His boots scraped the planks. He pulled off his hat and circled it on his fingers. "This is all I could get."

She swallowed hard and thought of the long column of numbers in the ledger book. "We'll make it stretch. We've done it before."

Deepen the point of view with internal thoughts 

The tall man hesitated in the doorway then scuffed his boots across the wooden floor and dropped a thin envelope on the weathered desk. "The deal's done."

The simple fact her foreman hesitated told the story. Could she handle what he'd say? "That's it?" She gripped the arm of the wooden chair until her fingers ached. Surely, more would be coming. "Was there a problem?"

"Too many herds being sold today." His boots scraped the planks. He pulled off his hat and circled it on his fingers before lifting his head to meet her gaze. "This is all I could get."

She swallowed hard and thought of the long column of numbers in the ledger book. The ones that weighed too heavily in the red. "We'll make it stretch. We've done it before."

The last section still has only four sentences but can't you see these two people interacting, feel the tension in the room? You may have noticed that I still haven't committed this scene to a particular era-could be contemporary or historical. But that's yet another layer...


Layla Chase writes erotic romance.  Please visit her website:

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Other Gettysburg Address

This year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the other day, I read an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about the Other Gettysburg Address. It was news to me that President Lincoln was not the featured speaker at the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg in November 1863. That honor actually belonged to Edward Everett, a man who had been president of Harvard University, a member of the US House of Representatives, a US senator, governor of Massachusetts, US secretary of state, and minister to Great Britain. Everett was considered one of the great orators of the day and was a natural choice for the occasion. He had prepared his remarks with care, and at the ceremony, he spoke for two hours about the meaning of the battle and its place in history. He began with these words:
Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature...
Two hours later, he ended with this:
But they, I am sure, will join us in saying, as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates the Battles of Gettysburg.
Soaring rhetoric, right? But there's a reason no one remembers that carefully crafted and well-delivered speech. Because Everett's elaborate words were immediately overshadowed by the simple eloquence of the speech that followed. In fewer than 280 words, President Lincoln perfectly encapsulated what Everett expended more than 13,000 words trying to say. Or as Mr. Everett himself later put it in a letter to Abraham Lincoln:
I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.
But how does this relate to fiction writing? (Aside from the immutable law that you should never use 13,508 words when 271 will do?) Well, maybe the key is in Everett's assessment of his own writing: the central idea is what matters. If you don't start with a good structure and build from that, no matter how many words you add, the writing will not resonate. In other words, if the emotion in your story does not flow from the characterization and the conflict, it won't matter how many adverbs or exclamation points you add, the story will never be memorable.

So if you find yourself writing about how incredibly happy or filled with ecstatic joy your characters are, take a step back and ask whether you're using elaborate language to try to generate emotion where none exists. And if so, take a tip from Mr. Everett and consider whether that elaborate language makes your writing richer, or whether it just makes it forgettable.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dialogue By Patricia Tanner

Things to think about when you are writing dialogue

1) Would the dialog be interesting enough for an eavesdropper to wonder about what is being said?
2) Let dialogue show the emotions.
3) Characters should talk to each other and not the reader.
4) Use "beats"* to show actions, define character, or vary the rhythm of the dialogue.
                       Ex: “Where are you going?” Jane looked up from the dishes.      
                             “Where are you going?” Jane picked at the cloth napkin in her lap.
5) Resist the urge to explain the dialogue. (RUE) If you've written it well, there is no need to explain it in narrative.
                       Ex:   “How could you do this to me?” The question in her voice tugged at his heart.           (we already know by the words that she is distraught)          
                               “How could you do this to me?” The single tear on her cheek tugged at his heart.

Dialogue Mechanics

* Put name first.        
Ex.  Mark said, “Stop the car now.”
* Start a new paragraph with new speaker.
* Place punctuation inside end quote.
* Use a dash when conversation is interrupted.    
Ex: “ What do you-“
* Use ellipses when words trail off.    
Ex: “But this doesn’t…”
* Or for stammering/stuttering or gaps in dialogue.    
Ex: “I th…th… think I c…c…can.”          
“ Put the chair…” she pointed to the corner, “ over there.”

It's very easy to get stuck in the dialogue tag rut. I am the Queen of "she said, while (insert action here)."

The way to combat the "saids" is first to do a thesaurus search for synonyms. Pronounced, muttered, stated, offered, shouted, cried, screamed, whined, announced, declared, recited, indicated, admitted, and quite a few other words are all examples of dialogue tags you can use instead. You want your dialogue to show as much emotion as possible so the reader can really "hear" the words. Intersperse these with "saids" so the reader doesn't stop to analyze an unusual tag.

Another technique is the action tag. This removes the "saids" and puts an action in its place to show the reader what else is going on besides a bunch of talking. The action tag also helps show the emotion the character is experiencing.

EXAMPLE: "There's nothing there anyways," she said taking deep calming breaths of sea air.
TRY: "There's nothing there anyways." She took deep calming breaths… .

EXAMPLE: "I think it's psychosomatic," Jamie said, reaching out to catch a handful of spray from the bow of the ferry."
TRY: "I think it's psychosomatic." Jamie reached out, catching a handful…

This then begs the question: One or the other? I think a happy combination of the two is a good way to go. But remember, sometimes you can't avoid the, "I love you," she cried passionately.

Reprinted with permission of Patricia Tanner.  Ms. Tanner is a multi-published author.  Please connect with her on Facebook.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Creativity Over Logic? By Faith V. Smith

That is a good question to ponder when writing. It is also one I had never thought to ask until I spoke with Professor Lane Hudson, an instructor at the State University of West Georgia.

As writers of reviews, newspaper articles, short stories, or full-length novels—whatever the case may be—we all occasionally hit a snag in our writing. I fondly call it a mind freeze, but for others it is writer’s block. It really doesn’t matter what we call it as long as we find a solution to the problem.

As I searched for relief from my mind freeze, it was mind blowing (pardon the pun) to discover that the physical aspects of my sweet and devious little brain could actually be affecting my foray into the written word. Instructor Hudson was instrumental in showing me that there is hope for writers to overcome the age old problem of “What to Type.” Professor Hudson has a simple solution for a difficult problem when it comes to writer’s block. He says we should not hack to pieces our personal computers when the muse deserts us. Instead of turning into maniacal monsters who might stare at a blank screen for hours, we should turn off our monitors and create solely from the spirit, without looking at the screen. Sound like a fairy tale? It isn’t. This simple solution really works.

Professor Hudson explained that the left brain (the “logical” side of our brain) can hinder the creative right side of the brain. When we get a “mind freeze” it is the left brain trying to override the right brain. In other words, the left and right brain actually wage a war of thoughts.

When we are delving into plots, scenery and the emotions of our characters, we really only want to paint a picture with words, but occasionally we get to a place where words desert us, and we find ourselves staring at the monitor screen wondering what to type next. Staring, starting and staring…we all know the drill. We are desperately trying to come up with the inspiration that will send our fingers flying over the keyboard.

But the logical side of our brain tries to stamp out the creativity we are trying to produce. As we are staring at the computer monitor our left brain takes a peek at the screen and sees typographical errors, unfinished thoughts, and rough paragraph structure, and wants to correct these, whereas all the right side of our brain wants to do, is finish the creative work.

As simple as it sounds, the monitor blackout shuts down the logical side of our brain. It’s like closing our eyes to the errors, leaving us free to fantasize about the world we are attempting to create. We are then free to have our fingers fly across the keyboard without looking at the screen.

Lane Hudson further explains in his experience there are two more important reasons writers tend to continue to gaze upon a blank screen when writer’s block arises. One, a lot of writers wait for the complete story they want to write to be revealed in its entirety, including plots and characters before filling the paper with words. And second, we tend to wait for the right words before typing any at all. This is a mistake that feeds writer’s block. What would be the right words for me, might not be the right words for someone else.

Everyone writes differently and we should all strive to remember that one word can make a difference in reaching our readers. Professor Hudson encourages writers to “express and not to impress.” We need to write what we feel, saving editing for later. So strip off the covers on your keyboards, limber up your fingers, and get to creating.


Faith V. Smith is a multi-published author with TWRP and Siren Bookstrand.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Common Writing Terms By Roni Adam

Originally Published in the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

I remember being fairly new to writing and wondering what all these terms I heard tossed around meant. Without wanting to sound too "green" I began to compile a list of what they all meant. Here's a brief overview that you can print out, and use whenever you hear a term you don't recognize.

Feel free to suggest more if you don't find this complete.

Advance - This is a monetary payment "advanced" against the possible earnings of a written work. Publishers offering an advance must make this money back before royalty payments begin to the author.

Agent - An individual whose job it is to represent an author's work to various publishers. Agents also negotiate contracts for their clients. The usual commission is around 10-15% of the advanced/royalties acquired. (Note: it is commonly held that legitimate agents do not charge evaluation or reading fees - they receive payment as a percentage of what they make for you.)

Agented Manuscript - A manuscript represented by an agent. Many traditional publishers only accept agented work.

Blurb - A brief publicity notice such as on the back of a book cover.

Backlist - A publisher's list of older titles still in print.

Copyright - The laws that protect a written work from being stolen. Copyright is assigned the moment your pen touches the paper, or your fingers stroke the keyboard.

Copyediting - To correct and prepare a manuscript for typesetting and printing.

Custom Cover Design - This is also a function of the graphic design. Customer covers offer readers testimonials and book blurbs especially on the back of the book.

Earn Out - When a book has sold well enough to pay the publisher back for the advance paid to a writer, it is said to have "earned out" Royalty payments may begin after a novel has earned out.

Galleys - Long press sheets sent to an author after an accepted manuscript has been typeset so that the author can check for errors. Not all publishers use galleys.

Graphic Design - The practice or profession of designing print or electronic forms of visual information as for an advertisement, publication, or web site. Most often used for book covers.

Image Placement - This is a function of design. When a manuscript has images (whether black and white or color) those images need to be "placed" on the page in order to prepare the document for printing. The graphic designer will spend time to make sure images match up to the text they belong with, and that they are of high enough resolution to be printed.

ISBN - International standard book number, the ID code placed on a book to distinguish it from any other books. This is part of the barcode.

Proofreading - To read (copy or proof) in order to find errors and mark for corrections.

Proposal - A document sent to a publisher to interest them in publishing an author's work. A proposal includes an outline of the book (synopsis), the page count, and the author's credentials.

Page Layout -  A function of the graphic design. Page layout for books involves determining how to position the text on the page; what paragraph structure to use, as well as spacing of characters, letters and lines. A good designer takes the audience of the book into account when deciding how to layout the pages.

Query Letter - Also called "query".  A letter asking whether an agent or a publisher would like to see your manuscript. Queries contain a brief overview of the manuscript and any publishing credits.

Royalties - A percentage of a book's sale price that is paid to the author of the book. Royalties are only paid after the book has earned out and are usually paid on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Slush pile - What editors at publishing houses call the overwhelming amount of unagented and unsolicited material they receive.

Solicited Manuscript - Any manuscript that an agent or editor has asked to see.

Submission - A manuscript sent for review.

Unagented Manuscript - A manuscript that is not represented by an agent.

Unsolicited Manuscript - Any manuscript sent to an editor/agent who has not specifically requested it.


Roni is a contemporary romance author published with The Wild Rose Press. You can find information on
her books and short stories by visiting her web site ( or check out where you can find all of her titles.

Monday, July 1, 2013

English is Easy?

You Think English is Easy?

Can you read these right the first time?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row .
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a  recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"
You lovers of the English language might enjoy this .
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is "UP."
It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?
We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP . We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized  dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn't rain for a while, things dry UP.

We could go on, but I'll wrap it UP , for now my time is UP, so...

Time to shut UP.!

Oh... one more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U-P


Nicole D'Arienzo is the Managing Editor for Historical Division of TWRP.