Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who likes to PITCH?

TWRP On The Road

Melbourne, Florida – November 16, 2013

Who likes to PITCH?

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

What is a synopsis?

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

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

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

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

Claudia Fallon
Wild Rose Press Editor

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Rifle Approach to Story Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathy Cottrell
Senior Editor, the Wild Rose Press

PSWA, July 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Carving Into Your Manuscript By Layla Chase

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

Carving Into Your Manuscript By Layla Chase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 EX: Maddie walked smartly across the room.

 EX: Maddie strode across the room.

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

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

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

Reprinted with permission from