Monday, February 27, 2012

World Building

By Michelle Church, Faery Rose Editor

I don’t feel like writing. I don’t feel like worrying about my word count or if what I’m saying makes sense to anyone other than me. I don’t want to think. I want to be outside in the sunshine, ideally by the lake enjoying the warm weather. However, I live in Michigan and its February. Enough said. Although, the sun is shining today. But it’s sooo bright. I’m not used to the reflection of the light off the snow. Holy cow, do I sound like a whining three year old or what?
I still don’t want to write. Or revise. Which is what I should be doing instead of complaining. I do have to say my house is pretty clean right now, which makes my husband happy. I did the bathrooms and the laundry. The kitchen is clean and dinner is cooking. I debated on washing some windows, but I’m not feeling that motivated. So I headed into my office to straighten up my desk a little bit. Which I did. I also dusted off my book shelf where I found my world building folder.
I love world building. Creating a world that didn’t exist until I put it on paper. I found myself getting excited. I hadn’t opened this folder in a while. I didn’t need to. My story is written, I just need to revise. I know everything about that current world inside and out. I pulled out a couple maps, one a general survey of the area I was writing about and one more in depth. I found the map of the house my heroine lives in and one of her town. There was a map going from her house to the hero’s and another to his sister’s house. I had to location of the schools highlighted since the hero has a young daughter. I had the coffee house in a prominent location since my heroine loves coffee and spends quite a bit of time there.
I found another map from another story, on an unknown planet with a new race of people. This story never really developed and looking at this map, I can see why. It was too general. I had a basic idea of the planet and where I wanted to go with it, but didn’t. I didn’t explore the area beyond the very small potion where the heroine lived. I didn’t even know what she did for a living or where she did it. I knew who her hero was and the villain, but that was about it. I think I completed three chapters before putting it aside and not looking back until now. Four years later. I wonder how much time I spent on that planet. Must not be much.
If J.K. Rowling didn’t spend much time developing Hogwarts, The Leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley, or even the Dursleys house would Harry Potter be the phenomenon it is today? Or George Lucas and the Death Star. Frank Baum and the world of Oz. You get the idea. The world you create will have a huge impact on the success of your story. I love fantasy. I love everything about it. But one of my favorite parts of a good fantasy story is the area it takes place. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; a forest will work as long as you develop it. Make me feel the moss under my feet. I want to smell the damp earth mixed with decomposing leaves. To hear the leaves blowing in the breeze and the birds singing in the trees.
Okay, for not feeling like writing I got a fair amount done. I also got out of my funk. That folder got me thinking. I jotted down an idea and got to work on my revisions. I don’t like to start another story when I’m revising; it just screws up my thinking. But it made me want to finish so I can start my new story. I still want warm weather and sunshine. I still want to sit by the lake. But for today I’m going to revise my current story that takes place during the summer and be content with what I have. Maybe.

Monday, February 20, 2012

An Editor's Wish List

by Kathy Cottrell, Senior Editor, Last Rose of Summer

The High Concept
            I spent a very long time trying to figure this one out, attending every editor/agent roundtable available, asking for examples. Nada. Until I heard agent Jessica Faust speak at the New England Romance Writers conference and a light bulb went off inside my brain:  The high concept, in a very few sentences, sums up the crux of the story. Here are some 'ah ha' examples I have found at
            Julia Knight's fantasy romance, Ilfayne's Bane, [Samhain Publishing, Ltd.]: “He destroyed a continent. Dethroned a god. Now she will destroy him.”
            Monica Burns' historical erotic romance, Mirage, [also Samhain].: “An ancient prophecy. A sheikh's passion. One woman ignites the flame that fulfills them both.”
            Irene Hannon's contemporary romantic suspense, Fatal Judgment, [Revell Books]: “Jake Taylor's assignment is straightforward. His relationship with Judge Liz Michaels isn't. They have a past. But if he fails, they may not have a future.”
            As you can see; it doesn't give me any plot details, however it does tell me what I'll be getting myself into. 
 The Hook
            I am not only an editor, I am first a reader. If the first few lines don't grab me; or the last line of a scene or chapter fails to capture my interest and imagination, the story probably won't work for me. For some authors 'hooking' is as natural as breathing; others struggle, however, that's where a good editor comes into the picture. Here are some hooks which made me sit up and take notice:
            Nora Roberts' beginning hook for Montana Sky: “Being dead didn't make Jack Mercy less of a son of a bitch.”
            Rick Riordan's beginning hook for The Lost Hero: “Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.” 
            Margo Hoornstra's end of scene hook for Glad Tidings: “What kind of woman buries her husband in the afternoon then sleeps with his best friend that night?”
            Debra Webb's ending scene hook for Traceless: Note: hero Clint Austin has just been released from prison after serving time for murder. “There wouldn't be much in the way of financial assets waiting for him back home. But he would have full access to the one thing that he wanted nearly more than his next breath . . . .The people who had stolen his life.”
 Memorable Characters
            I read Leon Uris' Mila 18 when I was fourteen. Every couple years I go back to visit the entire cast of characters. The same goes for Kathleen Woodiweiss' Shanna and A Rose in Winter.  These are the keeper books on my night stand.  The secret to creating great characters is to give them a few warts. Then throw them into the deep end of the pool but make sure you put a few hidden traps beneath the surface of the water.
            Brenda Leigh Johnson, a Georgia peach transplanted to LAPD in TNT's The Closer. She may be beautiful and built, but her subordinates choke on her thick southern drawl; she dresses out of Volunteers of America; and she's tenacious as Hong Kong flu. 
            Harry Potter, the wizard raised as a muggle with a weird looking scar on his forehead. JK Rowlings tossed him into the deep end of the pool known as Diagon Alley, later Hogwarts and the fun began.
             Eve Dallas, [JD Robb's futuristic In Death series], the street smart homicide detective with the social skills of a rattlesnake confronts the prime murder suspect, a man with a one word name, more money than God, better looking than some lapsed Irish angel. Eventually he woos her with a rare steak and a sack of coffee beans.
            It takes Parker Evans, [Sandra Brown's Envy], a wheelchair-bound hero twenty years to exact revenge on his college room-mate by deliberately seducing the roomie's unwitting wife. “Did I stutter?” still makes me laugh out loud. This story keeps the reader on the edge from start to finish.
             Cash Boudreaux, [Sandra Brown's Slow Heat in Heaven] revels in the image of local bad boy, occasionally inciting violence, has good reason to want revenge against the richest family in town.       
             Just a smidge about secondary characters: they support the hero and heroine, often provide comic relief, occasionally serve as a red herring. Make each one different from each other as well as the hero or heroine. If they all sound the same why should I bother to read the book?
 The Setting
            Must be as vivid as any of the main characters and, in my opinion, becomes a character of its own. Examples:  Innocence, Mississippi [Nora Roberts' Carnal Innocence] if chock full of murder, depravity and humor; Nohmensville aka No Man's Land [Captain Marvelous] actually should have been named no woman's land due to it's apathy, bigotry and ignorance; Lunacy, Alaska [Nora Roberts' Northern Lights] features its own set of 'lunatics'. And let's not forget Hogwarts. Do you see how the names, while unique, describe the flavor and aura of the settings? 
 Goals, Motivation & Conflict
            Every thing I know about GMC was learned at the knee of one of my heroes Debra Dixon who wrote the book [literally] on this topic. In short, the hero and heroine must have a goal [ie what do they want/need to accomplish?]. It needs to be logical and realistic. Likewise, their motivation for accomplishing these goals must be logical, realistic, and understandable to the reader—as in 'yeah, if that happened to me as a kid, I'd shoot for that goal, too. 
            The really good stories put the hero's goals in direct opposition to what the heroine wants and that's called CONFLICT.
            Now . . . conflict comes in two forms, internal and external. External is usually pretty easy: it's an external force [such as the approaching hurricane in Eileen Dreyer's Sinners and Saints which hampers the heroine's search for her missing sister. In Captain Marvelous the hero is trying to identify the killers of immigrant women and bring them to justice. He is thwarted at every step by complacency, bigotry and apathy from the towns people and a less than sterling police department. External conflict is supposed to be a bitch for the hero and heroine. Thwarting bad guys, disease, pestilence, and the apocalypse is no easy feat. But . . . as Sister John Thomas used to say, 'adversity builds character'.
            Internal conflict is what gets authors every time. This is the demon inside the hero and heroine which prevents them from accomplishing their goals AND should be directly tied to their motivation and goals.  In My Name is Nell, the heroine is a woman working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous while managing a home and raising her children without much help from a toxic mother and sister. She meets, then falls in love with a widower. Neither was looking for romance; it just happened. Now take a guess as to the circumstances which caused the deaths of the hero's wife and child. Go on, take a guess. That's conflict with a capital C. 
             In Debra Webb's Traceless, Clint Austin served time in prison for a murder he didn't commit. Emily Wallace, the star witness against Clint has not been able to move past what happened to her best friend, and vows to make him pay for his crimes all over again.        
Words to the wise:     Conflict cannot be resolved with a five minute conversation between all interested parties. It is something so strong, so powerful, the reader must believe these two people will never ever stay together.
 Common problems that come across my desk:
Failure to follow submission guidelines:  after you pick the publishing house you want to submit to, commit their rules to memory AND FOLLOW THEM TO THE LETTER. This includes submitting a mystery to a publisher who only releases romance [or vice versa].
 Errors in spelling, punctuation, formatting:  Use spell check; take a basic technical English writing course and practice on your computer program to learn how to set margins, line spacing, and indents. Fancy fonts do not impress me, nor do quotations at the beginning of each chapter.
 Point of View: some editors only accept two POVs. I personally don't mind more than the usual two, but I don't want to dislocate a cervical vertebrae while reading a manuscript.
 Telling instead of showing: this takes some practice but it can be mastered. Don't tell me the hero's pissed at the heroine, show me.
 Frothy, repetitious prose. As I have occasionally informed the authors involved with the Class of '85 series for TWRP, “Hauling out the hedge clippers makes me cranky.” Tell me what you want to say in simple declarative sentences. Learn the purpose, and proper use of, commas and semi-colons.
 Too much sexual attraction too early: there is a reason why we call it sexual tension. Giving it all up by page 10 is not tension; it's risky and dangerous behavior, not to mention unhealthy. There is a reason why we keep our zippers in a locked, upright position. It makes readers keep turning pages. Note - there are certain types of romances where this rule would be broken such as in erotic romance. But for most of the romance subgenres sexual tension is what keeps the reader reading.
 Editor bio: July 2004, in the middle of a bar at RWA Dallas, nurse/victim advocate/and insurance investigator Kathy Cottrell was handed her first published novel. The experience, similar to holding her first-born child in her arms, remains with her to this day. She uses the years spent maneuvering the twists and turns of Rejection Road, as well as her time as Senior Editor with The Wild Rose Press, to teach new, and not so new, authors as  examples of what to do and not do, who to listen, and not listen to, in order to hold that new baby in their arms.
 Kathy's current editor duties involve wrapping up the Class of '85, a reunion series for the Wild Rose Press. Ever wonder what happened to the prom queen? Or the guy voted most likely to spend time in a maximum security cage? Come to the twenty-fifth reunion of the Class of '85 and find out!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Self-Editing Workshop

Self-Editing Workshop

Feb 20-26

Want to perk up the pace of your prose?

Need help pinpointing your manuscript’s weak spots?

Contest judges getting you down?

Never learned the difference between POV and Show vs Tell?

Join Roses Colored Glasses for the

Self-Editing Workshop

Your Instructors: Layla Chase and Elle James

This workshop will help make your writing shine! Through the use of checklists, topical lectures and writing exercises for each lesson, we give you tangible examples of what to look for and how to fix it. You'll get interactive assistance from freelance editor and award-winning author, Layla Chase, and Harlequin author Elle James.

Passive Vs Active voice, Power words & pumping up your sentences

Eliminating implied or unnecessary words

Gerunds, misplaced modifiers, dangling participles

Point Of View and Show Vs Tell

Grammar & Punctuation

Style and Voice

To enroll, send your $20 payment through Paypal from the workshop page on

Deadline for enrollment is February 20, 2012.


“I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for teaching the Self-Editing class on Rose's Colored Glasses. I took the class earlier this year and by applying what I learned to my manuscript, I managed to final in a RWA Chapter contest.”

"... even more than the wonderful tips and checklist and exercises, this workshop taught us how to discipline ourselves, which I love. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

“Just want to say thank you so much for all your insight and information, ladies. I enjoyed the class and can definitely take the information and apply it to my writing. In fact, it's been useful already!”

“I wanted to express my appreciation for the time and assistance we have been given. I have learned so much and have so much to learn. Thanks heaps and I'll be doing this again!”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Romance is in the Air!

Tomorrow is the most romantic day of the year~Valentine’s Day.

As a publisher of romance, how could we not take a moment to celebrate with all the romantics at heart?

I’m sure you’ve heard the day called a “Halmark Holiday,” but let’s think about this….what is the #1 flower sent and received today? The daisy? Nope. The tulip? Nope. The carnation? Close but nope. The rose. Yeah, I think you see where I’m going with this LOL.

Enjoy the romance of the day at the Wild Rose Press. Believe me, we got romance! Sweet, heartfelt romance. Sensual, electric romance. Steamy, spicy romance. You name it and I’m sure you can find it within the gates of our gardens. Thousands of roses just waiting for you to pick for yourself or send to that someone special.

So come into our store this Valentine’s Day and browse our shelf of beautiful roses….

Monday, February 6, 2012

Februray - The Month of Romance

by Nicolette, Editor - Black Rose Line

February, the month of love and romance, I would like to take this chance to thank and applaud all of the writers.  Who better to represent this month than all of you, romance writers.  If you are published, thank you for entrusting your stories to all of us at the TWRP.  If you are secretly toiling away at a story, keep at it.  We are waiting to read your words.
I am your biggest fan! And your biggest cheerleader!
The hardest thing I have to do is write a rejection letter.  It takes a very brave person to submit a story.  And every story deserves to be told but there are times when they need a little work before they are ready to go out into the world.  When you do get that rejection letter think of it as the next step in the process and please keep on writing.  Jump right back in.
Take the time to learn the craft. All the technical aspects of writing can be studied and learned.  Take advantage of all the resources available.  However, the most important thing a writer brings to the table is passion.  Be open and free.  Don’t hold back.  Allow your characters to take you on the adventure.  It’s their story let; them tell it.  If you give them a chance, they will push you to the edge and hopefully right over.
Don’t be afraid of taking the big risk.  Be daring, love is a crazy thing, it makes people go far beyond what they would ever dream.  It pushes to extremes never thought possible.  As a writer of romance, you need to be willing to take that leap and bring us all along with you. Create the world you want to see.  Experience every minute detail and then share it with the rest of us.
More importantly have fun.  This should be pure enjoyment.  Love what you are doing; love each word that is put on the page.
Don’t be afraid of tapping into your emotions.  It may be uncomfortable but it breathes life into characters when the emotions come from a real place.  Embrace them, use them, they are the tools you’re going to need. Allow yourself to experience the highs and lows of the characters.
Listen to the voices in your head. They will guide you through your story.
And remember, no holding back!
I fell in love with romance novels at a young age and never looked back.  I love the stories, the ideas that love can conquer all and that there is a happily ever after.  It gives me hope in a world where so much is focused on the negative.  It’s my escape into a better world where I know that no matter what happens, no matter how dark the dark moments get, it’s all going to work out for the best.  My hero and heroine are going to find their way back to each other because their love is strong enough to carry them through.
The process isn’t always easy but never give up your dream. We are here to help and cheer for you.  Waiting excitedly for your stories release.