Monday, December 3, 2012

Always Hug Your Single Quote Marks.

My childhood cat loved to hide under the sofa and lie in wait for passing ankles. An unsuspecting victim would cross the living room, minding her own business, until aaackk! Jaws shot out like a moray eel and sank her fangs into another tender tootsie.

As a copy editor for the Wild Rose Press, Inc., I relive this experience in the manuscripts I review. There I go, reading along serenely, until aaackk! a typo jumps out and bites me. Or a punctuation glitch or, too often, a dangling participle.

Everyone has seen warnings and wagging fingers about common errors, but that doesn’t stop typos showing up every day in fresh submissions. Among the ones I see most often are errant single and double quotation marks.

Single quotation marks are a shy and nervous critter. In almost all cases, they’ll only show up when hugged by double quote marks. If your character’s dialogue repeats someone else’s words, put the other person’s words in single quote marks. The only other appropriate places for single quotes are around names of horticultural cultivars or in specialized linguistic writing.

For submitting to the Wild Rose Press, Inc., single quote marks belong inside a double quote mark hug (American style). Without the shelter of the double quote marks, the single quotes aren’t happy! (And nor will your editor be.) Don’t Use Them Alone. EVER. I’m begging you.

WRONG: Mrs. Blake heard someone say ‘Boo!’

RIGHT: Mrs. Blake raised an eyebrow at the class. “Who said, ‘Boo!’?”

WRONG: In her essay, Janice described Mrs. Blake as the ‘best’ teacher in the school.

RIGHT: In her essay, Janice described Mrs. Blake as the best teacher in the school.

Or for emphasis, Janice could use italics, thus: the best teacher...

Double quotation marks are best saved for dialogue. It’s correct to use them as scare quotes to set off a word or phrase in a sentence, but that often puts people’s teeth on edge. Scare quotes are not recommended, not if you’re sending a story to me, at least. (Other TWRP editors may have no problem with them. Perhaps they’ll offer opinions in the comments section below.) Proverbs and common phrases don’t need quote marks, unless they’re spoken in dialogue.

WRONG: Justin was the proverbial “rolling stone,” tooling around the country on his motorbike.

Notice the comma inside the final quote mark (American style).

RIGHT: Justin was the proverbial rolling stone, tooling around the country on his motorbike.

By putting quote marks around a word or phrase outside of dialogue, you’re telling the reader Don’t believe me! Scare quotes are meant to signal an ironic or nonstandard usage of a word; they do not signal emphasis. Scare quotes examples:

Celia picked up her daughter for some “quality time.” (Correct only if she plonked the kid in front of the television.)
Our company provides “health care.” (Correct only if it makes you sick.)
“Farm fresh eggs” for sale. (Correct only if they’re a year old, from factory chickens, and not actually eggs.)

For more useful and entertaining tips on quote marks, dangling participles, and many other writing topics, you can visit some of my favorite blogs.

Edittorrent Two professional editors discuss writing problems and how to fix them. Check out their series of rants on dangling participles.

Flogging the Quill A professional editor offers online critiques of first pages sent in by brave volunteers. His explanation of show vs. tell is brilliant.

Romance University Experienced authors and editors contribute articles on all aspects of writing and publishing. Cherry Adair’s recent post describes her process for creating three-dimensional characters.

Savvy Authors Writers helping writers.

Eilidh MacKenzie - Editor  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Publishing: An Industry in Transition

Publishing: An Industry in Transition - Options for the new author, the seasoned author, or the author in flux.

The publishing industry is an industry exploding into a new era. Traditional houses are e-publishing, the paper method of editing has shifted to track changes, and their slush piles are as tall as skyscrapers. Vanity presses are popping up everywhere and self publishing has become the fastest way to get your book out there. Carefully consider if  the fastest is always the best.

Change can be good. Too much change happening too quickly sometimes makes people uncomfortable. But change has a tendency to rock you out of your comfort zone. We need shaking up once in awhile. Innovation brings progress, and yet sometimes good things are lost in the transition. Eventually some of those things are resurrected, often out of need. I have faith that good editing will be one of those things.

For example, if any of you have downloaded self published books lately perhaps you already know what I’m talking about. Self publishing is no excuse for skipping the editing or formatting process. It breaks my heart to read a well thought out plot with good characterization and have to wade through bad spelling, poor dialogue, and worse grammar. So much failed potential. I know it’s not me just being a editorial snob. Too many readers are complaining. Every book out there has a mistake or two, and I think we all can overlook that. The ones I’m referring to are the ones we can’t finish because they’re too difficult to wade through. The misplaced modifiers and run on sentences make it impossible decipher what the author’s intention.

Some of you know I’m an editor who is also an author. What that means is that I’ve learned to value good critique partners and my editors more than death by chocolate. Even though my job as an editor with The Wild Rose Press involves each step in the editing process, what I enjoy most is the content editing. You know, content editing is that part where the editor makes brilliant, insightful suggestions about your story which help take your book to the next level. (GRIN. I always strive  to be that editor.) You, the author,  recognize the value of those suggestions because they’re the ones that make you slap a hand to your forehead and ask yourself why you didn’t think of them first. In the time I’ve been involved as an insider with the publishing industry, I’ve been fortunate to work with excellent editors like that.

When I first started writing, I took classes, attended seminars, joined writer’s groups, and talked to successful authors to find out about the process of getting a book published.  I finished writing a book. That was the first step. But when I decided to publish (which is very different from deciding to write) I was floored by the process. (That was when New York publishing houses were my only option.) Now the possibilities are endless, almost too many to consider. No matter what direction you choose for your work, I’d like to make a suggestion: Don’t skimp on the editing. Find a critique partner who challenges you to do your best. Listen,  weigh every suggestion, and then decide what’s best for your story.

I  also read reviews to see what readers like and what they object to. (Not just mine, either. Reviewers can be insightful.) You know—like the too stupid to live heroine or the book that never answers a crucial question. Yes, and always remember you can’t please everyone. Personally, I like to know I’ve tried to address every plausible concern in each book I work on. Self edit. Don’t wait for your critique partner to point out the obvious. Every author should also be their own editor. (Warning: Wait until you’ve completed the first draft. You can self edit your book to death and never finish it.)

Besides finding a critique partner and an editor, do your homework. Self publishing comes in many shades of gray. It isn’t the only new option out there. Different books may need different venues. Does a mystery belong with a romance press? Does a memoire belong with a mystery press? Can an erotic press publish your YA? Maybe, but not as effectively as the correct venue.  

What are those venues? The traditional agent to book publisher is another method. The advantage is obvious. Another are vanity presses which can do it all for you for a price. There are also small presses which provide editing and distribution, some promotion. The new craze, self publishing through the online sites. It is different from distributor to distributor. B&N has one guideline for formatting—iBook another. Now there are also companies that, for a fee, will format your work and offer covers and distribution to the various ebook sites.

Many small presses and e-publishers provide excellent services for the new author as well as for the experienced author, too. They provide a kinder, gentler atmosphere for the newbie to navigate within the publication world and endless support for the more experienced author who doesn’t want to take the time to learn how to format, where to shop for covers, or how to distribute her books. After all, we all know the best promotion is writing the next book.

Here at TWRP, you have a group of authors and professionals who support you and share tips for writing and promoting. They have your back when you need it and are your greatest advocates when you succeed. Consider your options carefully.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shades of Black: Grave Distinction - Black Rose Submission Call

Black Rose
Special Call for Submissions
Shades of Black: Grave Distinction

The Wild Rose Press’s Black Rose Imprint is looking for dark romance stories set in or around old cemeteries (these can be real or fictional). Perhaps a graveyard at an old manor house or mansion. We’re looking for dark, paranormal ambiance. Send a shiver up our spine as you weave a tale of romance.

Stories should revolve around the graveyard and should incorporate dark creatures of the night. Shifters, vamps, demons, incubuses, succubuses, gargoyles, dark angels, witches, warlocks, or even evil ghosts. Bring those grave markers or statuary to life.

Stories should target 8-40K words preferably however, longer works up to 85K will be accepted.

Query by June 1, 2013.

Please follow the basic Black Rose guidelines
*click here for guidelines

Send your query to:
Subject should read – Shades of Black: Grave Distinction, your title.
In the body of your email include
Author Name
Word Count
Email contact
A brief blurb and short synopsis
Do not send attachments with your query.

We look forward to reading your stories.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly.

Callie Lynn Wolfe,
Senior Managing Editor
The Wild Rose Press
Black Rose Imprint

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Haunted Garden Halloween Hop - Deadly Creatures

Are you the kind of person who sees a spider on the wall and goes screaming from the room? Or are you a brave soul that grabs a tissue, squishes the spider and flushes it down the toilet. Or the bravest of us all, do you let the spider crawl onto your finger so you can take it outside and gently release it into the rose garden. I’m somewhere between screaming and leaving the room and grabbing a big shoe. It depends on the size and furriness of the spider.

I thought it would be fun to share a top ten deadliest creature list. So if you have an elephant in your back yard, you’ll want to call in the professionals.

10 - Poison Dart Frog – Kissing one of these won’t get you a prince. One frog has enough toxin to kill 10 people.

9 - Cape Buffalo – The two sharp horns should scare you enough, but these beasts run in herds.

8 - Polar Bear – Fluffy, white, cuddly and look so docile. But you’ll be safer with a stuffed animal.

7 – Elephant – When I think of Indiana Jones riding elephants through the jungle, I think adventure. But elephants kill more than 500 people a year.

6 - Australian Saltwater Crocodile – Drowned and dismembered, yeah I think that is enough motivation to stay away from an alligators neighborhood.

5 - African Lion – This magnificent animal is considered a near perfect hunter. I think there is a story to write about a lion shifter. Precision hunter, wild and savage. I know those are qualities we love in a hero.

4 - Great White Shark – With 3000 teeth and can smell blood in the water, you’d be better to take your chances with a vampire.

3 - Australian Box Jellyfish – This jellyfish has enough toxin to kill 60 humans.

2 - Asian Cobra – The Asian Cobra isn’t the most venomous, but of all snakebites each year, it is responsible for the most deaths.

And the deadliest creature…watch out! It’s the…

1 – Mosquito – The mosquito kills more than 2 million people a year.

Is there a bug or animal that sends a shiver of fear along your spine? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10.00 Wild Rose Press gift certificate good at either or

Thank you for Trick-or-Treating the editors blog Behind the Garden Gate.
Continue on the Haunted Hop by visiting these Wild Rose Press authors.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Samhain or Halloween as we call it here in the states marks the end of summer. It has also been suggested that on the night we celebrate Halloween the veil between our world and others is like gossamer and can be breached by those who dare.

Worlds where faeries, dragons, immortals, and all types of paranormal creatures both good and bad have fascinated the human race for many millennia.  It is the aspect of new ground, unfamiliar territory, and paths not always walked that I believe pull readers into the world of romance. Worlds that could be vastly different then what they are used to, and in doing so it is the responsibility of the author and the editor to make sure the pages are true to life in whatever world the author paints in words.

Write what you know, and if you are not sure of the facts, please look them up. Create a place that is unique even if it is just the neighborhood tavern. Make it real, make it fun, and make it a place readers will want to revisit. Creating a world means layering it with characters, places, and even at times a villain that is unique for that particular place.  

Use your imagination, but please, make sure you cover all your bases.  Don’t leave any inconsistencies that readers will be able to get lost in. You want them to be involved but because they cannot help themselves—not because they are confused.  A world should be a place that readers do not want to leave. You want them to remember the world you create long after they close the book.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Editor's "Sweet List"

(Originally posted at Roses of the Prose, May 12, 2012-revised slightly to share today :)

How do you get on a "sweet list", whether a series sweet list or an editor’s sweet list. Well, it’s easier than you think…if you are willing to put in the work. Simply put, do your homework.

Remember how your mother always asked, “Have you done your homework?”…and somehow she could tell from the look on your face if you had or not? An editor has that same ability, we can tell who’s done their homework and who hasn’t, and that goes a long way to your chance to make the sweet list.

Let’s start from the beginning: Homework…studying…study your craft.

Take the time to read books from the genre you want to write and to read various books on writing. I say various because not all writing books work for all writers. There are many good ones out there, but you need to find the ones that speak to you, that you can relate to and understand in a way that makes sense to you. For some, that means more technical books on grammar etc while for others, a more biographical outline from an author’s point of view works better. But the more you read, the more you pay attention and find what you like and don’t like, the more you end up finding your own voice.

The next step is to write, and just keep on writing. Every story, every project, every trial and error, every critique or rejection teaches you more and more. This includes finishing a story. Why I say this is that a lot of writers work so hard polishing and perfecting the first three chapters in overexcitement to submit something. The problem here is that stories have these funny ways of going off track, of changing, growing, dropping off here and overcompensating there as you get that first or even second draft worked out. It is so easy to work over and over on those first three chapters, figuring you’ll work on the rest while you are awaiting a response from the publishing house. But by doing this, you are cheating yourself, and you’re story. You see, you really never know if a story is going to work unless you write the whole thing, only then can you see the full scope and any holes that need filling. A story can take so many twists and turns along the way, how will you truly know all the story can be until you discover each thread, each path that takes you to the happy ever after? Not to mention all you learn about the craft and yourself along the way. Trust me, nothing worse for an editor than getting a great partial submitted and eagerly requesting the full manuscript only to have the rest of the story falls apart because it was rushed or not given as much attention as the first three chapters had been given.

Now, once you do get your story written, that is the time to start the next part of your homework….studying publishers. This is VERY important. Read ALL the submission guidelines to the various publishing houses you are interested in. It is hard to get on a romance editor’s sweet list when you submit a contemporary intrigue story that has lots of adventure, but no love story. Or a romance with the sweetest, chase kiss to an erotic publisher. Or you submit a story with no faith element to a Christian publishing house. Believe me, it happens, more often than you would think.

Along with this is studying their basic submission instructions, too. For instance, if the submission guidelines say a manuscript should be double spaced, Times New Roman 12 font with one inch margins then that is what you should send in. I really don’t like to use the term “test” but in effect, that is a bit of what you could consider submission guidelines. For the most part, they are there to keep all manuscript formats uniform, but at the same time, it is a small test to see if the author did their homework, the simplest of homework at that. *Raising my hand* I admit it, if I request a manuscript, I often give a general format I prefer as noted above right in my request email. And if I get a manuscript back in a weird font with two inch margins etc, well, it definitely gives me pause, concerned that if the author didn’t follow my basic instructions for formatting then how are they going to handle more in-depth edits?

Lastly, when you’ve done all your homework, the best way to get on my sweet list is to capture me, right from the 1st paragraph. Put me right in the action from the get-go and you’ll get my attention pretty quick.

Take the Honky Tonk Hearts series that we’ve launched at the Wild Rose Press. How did these authors stand out amongst so many submissions? How did they get on my sweet list? For exactly the reasons above….they did their homework, they studied their craft and proofed their work, they read the submission guidelines for both the publishing house and the specific series, they emailed and asked me questions to be sure of the HTH guidelines and they queried and submitted as requested….then they captured me, each and every one right from the get go. The series was fairly open for setting so long as one pivotal scene took place at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, so I was looking to see the various ways authors interpreted this. And no, not every submission contracted was perfect from the start and not all were from established authors. I asked for various revisions from a number of them before contracting, and each author did their homework yet again. I saw the effort from each one, that strive to be the best they could and create the best story they could. Each author was open and willing to work to bring out the most in their stories and the series, and that also reflected highly with me.

Most times I end my email notes to authors with “As always, any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to let me know.” And I mean this, every time to every one. I’m here to help, to guide and to bring out all a story can be and all my author has for that story.   

And the best way to help editors help you, is to do your homework, read, ask questions, and most of all, keep writing.


Monday, October 1, 2012


The subject is definitely controversial.  On the one hand proponents feel writers should have the ability to go directly to the reader and sell their product without a publisher deciding  they can or not.  Those against it feel it's cheating.  Not wanting to wait for a publisher to contract the manuscript and going it alone.  Those against it also feel it could possibly lessen the quality of books and the buying public has no way of knowing if a book or short story is worth their money or not.

No matter which side you are on; one thing is for sure...Self-Publishing is part of the new world of publishing and changes haven't been this big since the first ebook was published over a decade ago.

One would think that a publishing house such as TWRP would be against the idea of self-publishing as it basically means the author is cutting out the publisher and going direct to the public.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  TWRP was started to help grow writers and in our constant mission to succeed in this goal, we are always open to change and new ideas as they come along.  Today, Wildflowers Books ( was opened as a way to help writers reach their goals once more.

WFB will offer services that will help the writer self-publish his/her book. We will offer services to allow the writer to have a beautiful cover, a manuscript that is converted to the proper format for various distribution channels such as,, iStore, and several others. We will also offer print copies if the length is appropriate for printing.

TWRP will always be the main thrust of our business; helping writers become published authors in the traditional sense and we will always bring you the very best in quality romance.  But just like there was room for both print books and ebooks; there is room for selfpublished books too. Change is good; it keeps everything moving forward.  Remember, some used to say the home computer was pointless too.

So stop by and take a look at the newest part of our garden -

Any questions, feel free to contact me directly at

Rhonda Penders

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How do you remember that?

How do you remember that?
The Old-Fashioned Way

Sixty years ago the English language was different. Schoolchildren learned the rules by sing-song rote and everyone respected the teachers who enforced those rules and led the recitation of them. What you learn early you don’t forget easily. I can still tell you about lie-lay-lain vs. lay-laid-laid, set-set-set vs. sit-sat-sat, and swim, swam, have or has swum.
Not so easy is the punctuation, not all of which has changed drastically since then. As an editor, I’m enormously tired of seeing semicolons in weird places. Not that the use of semicolons has changed much; they’re still supposed to be between two complete sentences that are strongly related. (Yes, like that sentence.) Maybe the problem is that nobody recognizes what constitutes an official sentence these days. Thanks, Ernest (Hemingway, that is). My advice to authors: don’t use semicolons at all. Consider them on the endangered species list and save them for making winks in your e-mails. Oh, you just now caught on to what a semicolon is? Well, good for you! Now you know what to do with it. Just don’t let me see it.
And then there’s the apostrophe.
The what?
You know, that little mark that’s kind of like a comma but it’s up above in the words, not down at the lower part of them. It’s always by an “s” – in fact, if you have an “s” on the end of any word, you should probably put one of those little marks between the word and the “s”, right?
But isn’t that what everybody is doing these days?
Maybe so. But it’s still – Wrong. If I never see another apostrophe again, that would be better than seeing one in every place possible. You want me to consider your manuscript? Get it right or don’t use it at all, just like semicolons.
But what’s right?
If the word with the “s” on it owns something, okay, that can have the apostrophe, but that little mark goes after the whole word that owns something. (James’s, not Jame’s, for instance, if James owns something, or the Cutters’ place, if the place belongs to the Cutters, as a family, even if their last name is Cutter.)
If the word with the “s” has another word after it that has part of it left out and is attached to the first word, okay, the apostrophe can go there to show something’s missing. In fact, that’s where the whole idea of using an apostrophe and “s” for showing ownership came from…a few centuries ago people would write “John Baker his book” and that got shortened to “John Baker’s book” by leaving out the “hi” of “his” and using the apostrophe to show something was left out.
So what about things like “its” and “his” and “hers” and “yours”?
Those are possessives, but they don’t get apostrophes.
Why not?
Because they don’t have anything left out. Not because every rule has to have an exception, but if you want to use that as a weak excuse, go ahead. Just don’t give them any apostrophes, or you’ll be sorry someday.
Now do you really want me to go back and deal with lie and lay, and sit and set?
You’ll just have to do what I did: memorize and categorize.
First you say “lie, lay, have or has lain, lay, laid, have or has laid, sit, sat, have or has sat, set, set, have or has set” until you know it so well you can say it in your sleep.
Then you take the first set of each pair of easily mixed up verbs (that is, the lie-lay-lain and the sit-sat-sat) and beat it into your head that these NEVER have a noun that comes after them, something that they are done TO. 
Examples: I lie down today, I lay down yesterday, and I have lain down every afternoon for years. I sit on the chair today, I sat on the chair yesterday, and I have sat there many times.
With the second set of each pair (lay, laid, laid and set, set, set) you continue to give yourself a headache with the idea that these ALWAYS have a something following, something the action is done to.
Examples: She can lay the spoons on the table. He laid the gun down carefully. Mark has laid his plans carefully. Or, The depth charges were laid by the navy. Please note this last example has things turned around but it still says something was done to something.
More examples: Maya sets her basket by her chair. (Don’t you dare put an apostrophe by that “s”!) He set his jaw and continued to speak. We have set our course.
With both of these sets of words, lay-laid-laid and set-set-set, you can substitute the word “put” and have basically the same meaning. And you know you have to have a something that is put, you don’t just do it to nothing. So don’t use “laid” if you can’t use “put” in that spot, etc.
Okay, my ranting wrath is nearly assuaged. I’ll stop now and go back to editing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Keep the Connection Strong

In a creative writing session this week, I learned a bit about perceptions and perspectives. The facilitator divided the twelve individuals (who write a broad range of genres) into groups of four and assigned us a role. The scenario involved a pedestrian, a street gang and an undercover police car. We had ten minutes to write a mini-scene from the perspective (another word for viewpoint) of the role we’d been assigned. When time was up, we went around the circle and the selections were read aloud grouped by perspective.

Of the twelve writers, ten chose first person viewpoint, personalized the role to their gender, and used only snippets of dialogue. One man wrote in third person in a narrative style, and I wrote in third person close (police officer) but almost all dialogue between a male and female officer. The next day, we were discussing the mini-scenes and a woman told me she hated mine, HATED IT so much she’d even lost sleep over it. We were sitting beside each other and she lightly shoved my shoulder. This reaction fascinated me and, while I kept from giving myself a round of applause, I did ask her if she could explain what about my scene bothered her. [Someone else responded “because it was so vivid.” A woman said “it got her in the gut.”]

Actually, the woman who was bothered is a trial attorney, and she objected to the ultimate decision the police officers made. This was because she had seen firsthand the repercussions of incidents where officers had placed a higher value on their case than a potential problem right in front of their eyes. She internalized my scene to what she’d experienced in her day-to-day life and her psyche reacted.

What I came away with is a solid confirmation that a few well-placed showing details evoke emotion and deepen the connection with the reader. This technique is called by some writing in deep point of view (POV) and is the type of writing the Sweetheart editors like to see. We want a story that establishes enough setting detail to ground the reader in a physical world and enables the reader to create mental images of the place (a room, a park, an office, a yacht, etc). Then establish POV character by including sensory details relayed through that person’s experience (breeze on his face, smooth granite under his fingertips, sip of bitter coffee, bird chirping out the window, Winston the cat stretching on his padded bed).

My mini-scene follows with showing details in bold type:

“Uh, oh. See what I see, Hank?” Detective Shelly grimaced and pointed.

“Tall blonde in the platforms coming from the west?” He shifted on the seat of the patrol car.

“Yep. Thinks she sees them?” She eyed the group of loitering men under the pool of streetlight by the corner liquor store.

“Not yet. She hasn’t broken stride.”

Shelly checked her watch and glanced in the rearview mirror. “No sign of the suspect yet. Not due for another ten minutes.”

“You’re thinking we should intervene?”

“Too late.” Shelly’s stomach knotted at the sight of the men creating a blockade across the sidewalk. Her hand gripped the door handle.

“Don’t do it.” Hank’s tone was low but firm.

Her grip tightened as the tallest man strutted forward. Sometimes this job sucked.

By writing with details so the reader is involved what the character experiences, you keep the connection strong. The reader will get wrapped up in the story and won’t put it down. That start, along with realistic characters and a plot containing believable and sustained conflict, will be a story that excites and intrigues the editors. Looking forward to some great queries.

Leanne Morgena
Senior Editor

Monday, August 6, 2012

Email Etiquette - Did you know...

Have you ever received an email and the subject line is all in CAPS?

We’ve all been tempted. We’re excited. We’re in a hurry and need an instant reply. Or maybe we’re ticked off and want someone to know it. So we scribble off that email using capitol letters, bold font, we underline and then hit send.

Yikes, we’ve just breached email etiquette.

Your recipient receives the email and thinks this must be important…

But whether it was important or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that in email all caps comes across as yelling. So if you want to yell, OPEN ME NOW, use all caps, but the recipient is going to feel aggression from your written tone before they ever read your email.

Now let’s talk about all caps within the body of the email. There really is never a time when all caps are needed within an email. You’re a professional, composing a professional email. Do you really need to yell to make your point? If you need to bring attention to a certain section of your email, set it apart with an *, put the section in italics, or

set it apart with a space before and after.

Then you’ll ensure the recipient takes note of the important part of your email. Using bolded font or changing the color, and size of the font can also come across as aggressive.

Email is a written conversation. Always, always, begin your email with a greeting. Hello, Good Afternoon, Hi, Dear, any greeting will do. Hello is the first thing you hear on the telephone and should be the first thing you read in an email. Would you hang up on a business call without saying goodbye or saying thank you? Without signing your email, you leave the recipient with the feeling you just hung up on them. Your sig line isn’t enough to relay a salutation. Thanks, along with your name are needed to close the email.

When you’re emailing your publisher, your editor, your cover artist, or your marketing director, remember, you’re communicating with your business associate. In an email, a person can’t hear happiness, but they can guess at your anger if you’re using all CAPS, you don’t address the email, within the body of the email your bolding your font and you don’t finish off with a thanks.

Email etiquette goes both ways. You want the person receiving your email to know you value their time and attention to whatever you’re emailing them about. You can expect a reply email with an equal amount of respect and etiquette. In email, all we have to express our needs are our written words.

I know I speak for myself and other staff here at The Wild Rose Press when I say we want to help authors in any and every way possible. There’s no need to yell or show aggression with the way an email is composed.

The only exception to these email etiquette guidelines is when the email recipient is a friend, or if the email is an ongoing conversation. You won’t need a formal hello and goodbye when you’re emailing back and forth.

Thank you and wishing you a wonderful week,
Lisa Dawn
Marketing Director
The Wild Rose Press
The Wilder Roses

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sharon Donovan was one of Wild Rose’s authors. Unfortunately, she passed away this year but her characters live on. In fact, one of her stories has yet to come out. It is being finished now but we could use your help.

The story, a Crimson Rose, is set in New Orleans and features a dating service. I would like your help to name the match-making agency. Here are the possible names:

Fulfilling Wishes
Dreams Come True
Wishes Granted
Happily Ever After
Granting Wishes
Make Me a Match
The Perfect Match
Desired Endings
Search No More
Two Hearts
Eternal Bonds

Please send your vote in an email to lori (at), putting Matches in the subject line. In the email body, just type in the name you like. The one with the most votes will be featured in the story and then one of the people who chose that name will be picked at random to win a free download of the manuscript.

All entries must be to me by noon on August 9th.

What a great way to honor Sharon’s memory and help out with her story.

Lori Graham
Senior Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Man In The Wilderness

by Kevin Symmons
(note from Rhonda Penders - Kevin is an author with The Wild Rose Press and asked to be a guest blogger on our site in anticipation of the RWA National Conference this year being held in Anaheim, California beginning July 25.)

I ran to catch the elevator at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. It was a humid July afternoon at the 2009 Nationals. I was returning to the building after having been shuttled outside with thousands of other guests. It was the day after the horrific Mumbai terrorist attacks and something had happened. We spent thirty minutes sweating in the noontime heat and were allowed to return to the hotel never to discover what the threat had been. Many slept with one eye open and our running shoes next to the bed that night. I know I did! Some initiation for a first-time National Conference attendee. But threats and paranoia aside, I was pleased with myself. I’d met Donald Maass, esteemed literary agent, in the coffee line, Nora Roberts in the lobby and been inspired by a talk from Eloisa James, whose latest Duchess novel I had recently finished.I caught the elevator and got in with two charming and lovely attendees whose name tags I sneaked a look at. No household names, but both wore the PAN label I coveted.They looked at me, my name tag and then each other. 
To say they wore curious expressions would be an exercise in understatement. I nodded politely and turned around to press my floor, when one of the women cleared her throat, took my arm, and asked me, “What are you doing here?”Pushy, yes…but nonetheless a good question, I thought as I swallowed deeply? After all, I was a man. One of a tiny handful, hopelessly outnumbered by this feminine army of more than 2,500 romance writers. I was well aware of the sobering statistic that 98-plus percent of all romance novels were written by women. A lesser man might have skulked away and huddled in the corner, but in an earlier life I’d been tested in the scorching fires of what were euphemistically known as America’s “smokestack” industries. I’d suffered a brutal trial by ordeal! These women were way out of their league.I smiled; mustering every ounce of sweetness I possessed and answered, “I write romance novels. How about you?”They stole a glance at each other and nodded politely. We finished our brief encounter with a pleasant thirty seconds of conversation before reaching our respective floors.But their question was on point. Very much so. 
My reading tastes had always included McCullough, Ellis and Nathaniel Philbrick. I enjoyed novels, but denser, more intense offerings like those of Ken Follett or literary things like Cold Mountain, The Kite Runner and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. When I’d contemplated my maiden voyage to the Nationals, part of my soul said, “Save the money and stay home!” I’d been mentored by talented and prolific author (and past RWA President) Jo Ann Ferguson (aka Jocelyn Kelley). Jo Ann helped build my sagging confidence by reassuring me that RWA had once been lead by Harold Lowry, aka Leigh Greenwood… a man! I had also read many offerings of Nicholas Sparks and a talented author named Richard Paul Evans. But their work was women’s fiction not pure romance (too many POVs and too few HEA endings!) I knew the odds were still stacked heavily against me.Perhaps it was my masochistic nature or pure stubbornness, but despite the sobering statistics and veritable mountain of information that should have dissuaded me from this absurd, alien pursuit, for some reason, when I sat down at my laptop what emerged was a novel that quickly morphed into a romance titled When Summer Ends (aka Landfall) with little or no help from its author.
For even novitiate authors this spontaneous development of character and plot is well known. One of my favorite workshop leaders, Kate Flora, told a wonderful story about what Stephen King refers to as this organic approach to writing. Kate explained that she had gone home late one night to take her heroine out for a drive so they could come to an understanding. Non-writers would have tiptoed out the back door and called the shrinks. But after working on my first novel for only a month I knew exactly what she was talking about. The characters and plot did seem to grow organically on their own.As I stood in the Marriott lobby waiting for my friends and surveyed the attendees I did have a moment of self doubt. Did I, a humble squire, belong here with these queens and princesses, the royalty of the romance genre? Damn right, I did!
For the next two days I attended every class and workshop I could, finding a special interest in those that dealt with the paranormal. By the time I got back to my Cape Cod home, an idea had begun to take shape. After seemingly endless hours of analysis and tutorials on vampires, witches (my personal favorite), daemons and zombies, what had been an unassuming YA project would be transformed into a paranormal. Courtney, my beautiful young heroine, would become the embodiment of a thousand year-old Wiccan Goddess.Apparently the paranormal thing was the charm (excuse the pun!). After two novels and many rejections, Rite of Passage sold to The Wild Rose Press in September of 2011.The talented and charming young editor of this specialty romance house who bought the novel actually told me that, “Some of the most insightful authors she’d shared the podium with were actually men!” Now, we have a wonderful working relationship and I mean no disrespect but it does bring home my point. My publisher has over 300 authors. How many men? Though the pseudonym thing is difficult to breakthrough, if you said three you’d win the grand prize.
Why am I writing this? It’s simple. In hopes that the next time an elevator full of you lovely, talented mavens of romance spy a man with a badge (one that relates to a conference and is not accompanied by a gun and a set of handcuffs) you’ll take pity on him… or us and the tiny minority who’ve decided to pursue this difficult path to literary success.If you want to hear more or pursue the discussion in depth, join me and Arlene Kay, my writing partner at this year’s NEC-RWA where we’ll be presenting a unique and fun-filled session titled, “He said… She Said.” That’s right—it’s all about the male/female perspective in romance writing!Hope to see you there!ë 
Writer, college faculty member, and president of one of the Northeast’s most respected writing organizations, Kevin Symmons most recent work, Rite of Passage, is a paranormal tale to keep you turning pages late into the night. His other efforts include Voices, a sweeping women’s fiction work that brings to light the tragic problem of domestic violence in contemporary America. He has also collaborated with award winning screenwriter, playwright, and Professor Barry Brodsky who has adapted one of Kevin’s story ideas to the screen. Kevin is currently at work on his next novel, a romantic thriller set near his Cape Cod home. Visit him at

Monday, July 9, 2012

What makes for a great blurb? Start with a great story.

Ever go back and forth on whether your story is ready for submission or needs to be revised? Or wonder whether your work-in-progress will work? Try writing a blurb. Those 150-word summaries that introduce your characters and your plot are not just great for selling books. They’re terrific tools for analyzing your story.

How? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my time on TWRP’s blurb committee, it’s this: blurbs shine a megawatt spotlight on plot flaws. Lack of romantic conflict? The blurb falls flat. Lack of motivation? The blurb feels unfocused. Too much plot at the expense of characterization and romance? The blurb is an info dump. In fact, it’s almost impossible to write a great blurb for a story that doesn’t have a good balance between external and romantic conflict, or one that has too much plot and not enough characterization.

So the next time you’re trying to decide if your most recent draft should be your last, or even when you’re outlining a plot before you begin writing, try crafting a blurb to make sure your story works. The easiest way to begin is with the standard blurb formula:
Optional tagline: Phrase that captures essence of the story 
First paragraph: She wants this (Goal) because of this (Motivation) but can’t have it because of that (Conflict).
Second paragraph: He wants this (Goal) because of this (Motivation) but can’t have it because of that (Conflict).
Third paragraph: Give a sense of the hero and heroine's adventure and the outcome of the romance (Hint: it should be happy :)
Need some help getting started? Poke around our website and read some blurbs, or consider this example from our Honky Tonk series, Nothing But Trouble:
Chase Paladin avoids commitment like a patch of stinging nettles. He's seen how love can trample a man, and he doesn't plan to get hitched—ever. But when Honor Jackson walks into his life, hell-bent on keeping her distance, she turns his convictions inside out.
One look at the too-handsome cowboy with laughing green eyes and a killer smile, and Honor knows he's nothing but trouble. She's come to Redemption, Texas to help an old friend, not to let another man charm her into certain heartache.
But every time she turns around, Chase is there, and the closer they get, the more she fears he'll break her heart. So when anonymous threats make it clear that someone in Redemption wants her gone, Honor is ready to oblige. Only now Chase isn’t certain he can live without her.
Will two wary hearts take a chance on love before it's too late?
Nice, right? Notice how it shows the conflict—both romantic and external—and shows what each character has at stake? Here’s another great example from Something to Talk About:
Born-to-be-bland meets born-to-be-wild...
Annabelle Leahey is ready to be bad. Fed up with quilting bees and bridge clubs, Ann has to change or grow old alone. But going from bashful to bold won't be easy—especially since thong underwear is her idea of risqué. So Ann needs a guide, and rancher Mitchell Black is the perfect candidate.
The last thing Mitchell needs is more trouble. He hasn't lived down his bad boy days yet and he has no intention of resurrecting them now. But when Ann asks for his help, he can't refuse. Especially since the preacher's daughter has suddenly become a fireball of temptation.
Mitchell's determined to keep his role in Ann's research hands-off, but Ann has plans of her own. She intends to show Mitchell what he's missing—and that being bad with the right person can be o-o-o-oh so good.
See how the blurb concisely summarizes the characters, shows the reader what is at stake, and sets up the conflict between the hero and heroine? That's a sign of a well-plotted story.

So next time you’re working on a manuscript and wondering if it’s good enough to submit, try writing a blurb for it. If you find that you can’t sum up your characters and their romance in 150 words or less, chances are the story needs some work.

But if you find you can write a dynamite blurb, you’ll not only know that your story has a good plot, but you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes time to write a query letter and submit your manuscript!

Monday, July 2, 2012

You have a release what?

Remember the post from a few weeks ago called After Galley? RJ gave us insight on what happens to your book once both you and your editor have said, "Yes, my baby is ready to go."

Finally you receive the email notification. You have a release date. Now what?

First, read the report carefully. It contains your name as is will appear at etailers and on our website. Be sure it's spelled correctly. Make sure the heat rating is correct. We have a series of checks and balances so hopefully by this point there are no mistakes, but this is that last chance to be sure. Check your title, your genre, etc. Every line of text on that email is important to someone who will be putting your book to market. And finally, open the PDF that comes attached in this email. This is your final file and the PDF that will eventually be available for purchase. Just give it a quick glance. Is your book cover correct in the file, the copyright date?

It's rare that you'll ever find an issue, but it makes a fix far easier if it's found before your book is uploaded to etailers on the web.

So you've checked your PDF and your book metadata is all correct. Now it's time to plan. You'll have anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to plot out your marketing strategy. But I'm sure you have some questions like, when will my book be on the coming soon page?

Our coming soon page shows books that will be releasing within the next 4 to 6 weeks. Your coming soon page will become your buy page. The URL won't change. Once you have your coming soon page, you'll see a Twitter and Facebook share button at the bottom of the page. You can share your book with your Twitter and Facebook friends. Also, you can use this function to share your fellow TWRP author's books. Promote each other. A network of authors is going to reach more readers.

You may be wondering if you should have reviews before the book releases. Actually no, we make your book available to reviewers prior to release, but only a few weeks. We are an electronic publisher and we market to consumers on the internet. If a reader sees your review, we want there to be a cover and a buy link with a book that is live. So we want reviews to post after release date.

So what can you do before release? Add your website and book title - coming soon to your email sigline. Schedule a blog tour, see if other authors would like to join you to host a party on a yahoo loop. TWRP has two reader loops. (erotic content)

My best advice on promoting your book is to do what you enjoy. If you hate blogging, don't start a blog. Perhaps schedule a blog tour where you do a week's worth of stops, but then your blogging is done. Post tidbits from your books on facebook. The first kiss, the physical description, the best line during the black moment. There are many teasers within your books that would make great Facebook posts. Twitter is perfect for "tagline" type of tweets?

But wait, your book is going to print. When will that happen? Your ebook page always comes first on the TWRP main website. (The Wilder Roses website generally shows the print buy page prior to the ebook)
When your book is available for purchase (generally 2 to 2 1/2 weeks before digital release) you will receive an email from RJ similar to the ebook release report. Read this email carefully. It tells you everything you need to know about your print edition, including how to order for yourself. Your print buy page will then be linked to your digital page on the website. Print and ebook each have their own URL.

Here are a couple of links to help with promotion. - this loop generates emails from the Yahoo calendar on what to post and what Yahoo loops. No chat email. - this loop is for authors to help authors.

If you know of a resource for authors, leave a comment and share it with us.

Stop back for more on marketing.

Lisa Dawn
Marketing Director
The Wild Rose Press

Monday, June 25, 2012

Those forbidden, naughty words….

By Ally Robertson

No, this isn’t a blog post about erotica. I know absolutely nothing about writing erotic. I’m a suspense editor, but these words should be forbidden in any genre—or at least used sparingly. This is about those ‘bad’words that show up in so many manuscripts I receive. Words that slow your pacing, make your writing less active, less immediate, and distance the reader.
I’ve listed some to avoid—but trust me, there are many, many more:
Began to, Started to (Don't say your character 'Began to walk down the street' Just say, 'She walked down the street' Don't say your character 'Started to laugh.' Just say 'She laughed.')

Not to say these words can never be used, but the less you use them, the more active, the more ‘showing’ your story will be.

Some examples:


Julia was about to chime in when she heard the door to the bar open. She turned and saw Jasper Ramsey’s widow and son walk in.
Feeling her stomach clench and tears close her throat, she thought back to what had happened ten years earlier. The six of them drinking too much. The joy ride along the narrow, dark lake roads. Jasper Ramsey’s body flying in the air before landing in the murky water.


Julia was about to chime in when the door to the bar opened, and Jasper Ramsey’s widow and son walked in.
Her stomach clenched and tears closed her throat. The memories that were never far away came flooding back…the six of them drinking too much. The joy ride along the narrow, dark lake roads. Jasper Ramsey’s body flying in the air before landing in the murky water.

Which one sounded more immediate? Made you closer to the emotion? To what the character is experiencing? There’s no need to tell readers what she heard, saw, felt and thought. Just state it, actively and directly.


She knew the cemetery had been their second favorite hangout, next to the lake, and now, two of them were resting here…forever.
Suddenly, a voice spoke behind her. “Are you okay?”
She whirled and saw Jake standing a few feet away, studying her with that intense expression of his, as if he could ferret out her every secret, pull every thought and emotion from her soul.
She peered up at him. Rain dripped from the brim of his hat as he squinted at her, his mouth
turned down in sympathy. She wondered what it would be like to fall into him, to feel his arms close around her, to rest in his comforting embrace. She decided that wouldn’t be wise.


The cemetery had been their second favorite hangout, next to the lake, and now, two of them were resting here…forever.
“Are you okay?”
She whirled at the low rumble of Jake’s voice behind her.
He stood a few feet away, studying her with that intense expression of his, as if he could ferret out her every secret, pull every thought and emotion from her soul.
She peered up at him. Rain dripped from the brim of his hat as he squinted at her, his mouth turned down in sympathy. She wanted to fall into him, to feel his arms close around her, to rest in his comforting embrace. She sucked in a breath, willing the power to resist.

Don’t tell readers what she ‘knew’ or give them a head’s up that something is about to occur by using the word ‘suddenly.’ Just let the action play out so that the reader experiences it along with the character.

One more….

He moved up a couple of steps. She felt her breath stall in her throat as his scent filled her nostrils. Suddenly, a slow, warm thrill uncoiled in the center of her belly.
She knew the look in his eye was far from romantic. She saw anger that turned the gray to steel. She could see pain there, too.

He moved up a couple of steps. Her breath stalled in her throat, his scent filling her nostrils. A slow, warm thrill uncoiled in the center of her belly.
But the look in his eye was far from romantic. Anger had turned the gray to steel, but there was pain there, too.

Check your manuscript for these types of words and get rid of as many of them as you can. You’ll find your writing to be more showing, more vivid, and readers will become engaged and connect more closely with the action and with your characters.
Have a wonderful week…Happy Writing!

Ally Robertson
Crimson Rose - Suspense and Intrigue

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flag Day, Not Romantic?

Old Glory.  Star Spangled Banner.  Stars and Stripes.  These names are frequently used to identify the United States flag.  This coming Thursday is Flag Day.  Inspired by three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day—the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777—was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916.  It’s a little known holiday, just flies under the radar with very little pomp and circumstance.  Sometimes it gets a line on a calendar.  It never gets any mention by Hallmark.  No Flag Day sales at any of the big box stores or car sales lots.  But I’m here today to be the champion for that uncelebrated holiday.  We need to put it on the map, make it romantic.

But how can you make Flag Day romantic?  Well, you could always have the hero and heroine meet at a community picnic on Flag Day.  But that’s taking the easy way out. 

As an historical editor, this holiday is more about the soul that embodies the sacrifices and commitment of the American people.  This is the spirit that built a nation.  The passion that held it together.  And the love stories readers should never forget. 
I would love to see more American Rose submissions to personify this great time period:  The French and Indian War, Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Reconstruction era, and the dawn of the new century. 

American Rose stories are for those who long for the courageous heroes and heroines who fought for their freedom and settled the new world—all for their country, their love, and their flag.
Flag Day not romantic?  My parents were married on June 14, 1944.  My dad would always tease my mom that he got married on that day so he could remember their anniversary.  My mother would always say, “Don’t you remember what day it is?”  My father would always reply, “Yes, it’s Flag Day.”    He would smile, and she would get a twinkle in her eye.    You betcha, Flag Day is romantic.