Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the night before shut down....

"Twas the night before shut down, and all through our house
  All the editors were sighing, and letting go of their mouse.
The cover models were hung (hee hee) on the covers with care,
  In hopes that the readers would drool and stare.
The great manuscripts were edited and all have been read,
  As visions of more submissions danced in our heads.
With RJ at her computer, and Rhonda in her pjs,
  The editors are poised for a few easy days.
When over in Crimson there arose such a clatter,
  A villain on the prowl was as mad as a hatter,
Away to the department the editors flew like a flash,
  But the bad man was caught and tied with a sash.
The hand on the breast of the heroine vampire,
  Her body parts tingled, as if on fire.
When what to our unbelieving eyes should appear,
   But one lonely cowboy with all the right gear.
With a mighty stud, so lively and thick,
   We knew in a moment it must be erotic.
More rapid than eagles the senior editors they came,
   And we whistled, and shouted, TWRP would never be the same.
Now Nicole!  Now Diana! Now Stacy, Amanda, and Leanne!
   On Callie Lynn! On Lori! On Roseann!
To the top of the porch!  To the top of the wall!
   To the fantasy department we went, to all have a ball!
As elves, ghosts, and other creatures fly,
    When we see these characters we look to the sky
So all around us in the air they flew,
    With a variety of costumes, and some dragons, too.
And then in a twinkling we heard in the hall,
    A Civil War soldier with a lilting southern drawl.
As we were turning our heads and looking around,
   A modern day hero was what we found.
He was dressed in his finest from head to his boot,
   His clothes were tight fitting, and we let out a hoot.
A bundle of manuscripts he had flung on his back,
   The host of good stories TWRP would not lack.
The manuscripts—so many!  The plots how they varied.
   Thank goodness, the hero and heroine were not married.
The older heroine is welcome her, too.
   Her experiences are old, but her love life is new.
Lords and ladies, and a man in a kilt,
   Oh we love how those Scottish heroes are built.
A sweetheart of a story can warm a reader’s heart,
   But unless behind closed doors the characters are apart.
Give me a cowboy who just rode into town.
   Or a vamp and a were, but please not a clown.
An erotic, oh dear, can make us so hot,
  But please make sure the manuscript has a plot
We looked in the pack for a manuscript to take,
   Saved the stories on our computers for after the break.
Putting our flash drives in a very safe spot,
   The Christmas cheer made us feel like a tiny tot.
We sprang to our computers for one last time.
    We needed to end our little rhyme.
So here us exclaim as we shut down and go out of sight,

   Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Allison Byers
TWRP Editor, Historical Department
~~American, ETR, Cactus, and Vintage Lines
~~"Making History Come Alive"

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Wild Rose Press on Holiday

Everyone at the Wild Rose Press wants to wish you the best this holiday season. 
Our offices will be closed from Dec 19 through Jan 5, 2015.

Enjoy, relax, and read a good book from The Wild Rose Press.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why you shouldn’t give your book away

By Rhonda Penders

Why buy the cow when the milk is free?

We’ve all heard that saying. Basically, the meaning behind it is that someone isn’t going to pay for something that is offered for free. Whether it’s your virtue or your book, the issue is still the same.

When a writer devalues her work to the point of giving away her book, isn’t that what she is really doing? Just giving it away as if it were nothing?

I have to wonder if an author is so desperate to have someone, anyone, read her book, that she’s passing them out like pamphlets on the street corner.

Is it so bad that she doesn’t think anyone would or should pay for it? What about the months, maybe even the years, she spent pounding away at the keyboard creating that book? What about the lost hours spent editing and reworking it to perfection?

A promotional ploy

Most authors sacrifice a lot to write a book. They give up any and all free time in exchange for getting the story on paper. That has to be worth something; certainly more than a freebie.

Authors tell me it’s a promotional ploy. Promotion is great and today we have to constantly try new angles and ideas to draw in readers. I have no issue with giving away a chapter to entice a reader to purchase the rest of the book but give away the whole book? It doesn’t make any sense.

Authors hope that by giving away a book, readers will buy more of them or will buy the next book that comes out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way. Readers are a very frugal bunch. If they can get free books, why would they pay for yours? They will simply pick up someone else’s free book tomorrow, and someone else’s the next day, and so forth.

The numbers don’t lie

You may disagree with me – maybe your experience is different – but as a publisher, I have to tell you that the sales numbers don’t lie. While a select small number of authors may have seen book giveaways as a clever promotion to boost the sales of their next book, it is rare. Giving books away isn’t making sales numbers climb. How could it? Free doesn’t equal bigger royalty checks.

Meanwhile, authors have devalued their craft to the point where even they don’t think it should cost anything. I’ve been to a lot of craft shows the past couple of months. I’m amazed at the price of the handmade pieces people are selling. But then I think about the hours and hours of hard work these artists put into each piece and I have to admit it’s probably a bargain. Aren’t authors the same as these other artists? Aren’t authors creators of their craft and shouldn’t they value their work just as much as a wood carver or a glass blower does?

Maybe this old adage has a point in today’s publishing world. Every writer has to do what he/she thinks is best for their career.

It’s a tough time in publishing for authors but the answer isn’t giving it away. To me, that’s the same as giving up.

- See more at:

Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Morning Tell and Show

Many know this, others don’t. Some find it easy, others difficult. No matter what the case, I would like to discuss characterization with you and how it comes about.
“What is characterization?” you ask.
Easy—it’s the art of giving your written characters their unique identity, that which sets them apart from other characters in your writing—or the characters in other people’s writing for that matter.
“But how do you give your characters their identities through characterization?”
Quite simply, in two different ways: directly and indirectly. Direct and indirect characterization are the two methods writers use to shape, mold, and form characters. Continue reading and you’ll find information on how to keep these two methods straight in your head as well as how they help to make your characters relatable, lively, and interesting. I’ll begin with direct characterization since it is the easiest method.
Direct characterization is what the author states about a particular character. The author makes explicit statements to the reader: statements like “He was this” or “She acted like that.” If you don’t want your reader to mistake some facet your character has, direct characterization will set the reader the straight. But there is a problem with using direct characterization that can drastically effect your writing and even your publishability (yes, I did just make up that word).
You see, direct characterization falls into the realm of telling. And I’m sure you’ve heard many times in the past—and you may be hearing it from your editor now—you need to show, not tell. Direct characterization does not lend itself to gracefully painting images and emotions; rather, it’s an abrupt statement (however eloquently written) that tells facts. Therefore, the use of direct characterization should be kept to a minimum.
But lucky for you, there’s a way to avoid this: use indirect characterization.
“But what is indirect characterization? And how do I use it?”
I’m so glad you asked.
There are a variety of ways to work indirect characterization into your writing—five to be exact. And to help you remember them, just think of the word STEAL (just as I’m stealing this section of information from one of my college writing classes…but it’s not academic dishonesty, this info is public domain and plastered all over the internet).
Speech: what is the character’s tone, word choice, and/or accent.
Thought: what do the character’s private thoughts/feelings reveal about the character?
Effect on others toward the character: how do people react/behave around the character?
Actions: what does the character do, how does the character do it?
Looks: what does the character look like, how does he/she look or carry him- or herself?
Indirect characterization really isn’t a hard concept. All that you are doing with indirect characterization is revealing your character’s personality without stating it outright.
Now that you know the difference between the two types of characterization, how will you work it into your writing? Or, perhaps, how will you change your writing style? That I cannot tell you because every author has their own process when it comes to writing. But what I can do is give you two tips):
Tip #1: After you finish writing, start from the beginning and search out those all-knowing author statements that give details instead of paint pictures. When you’re sleuthing through your pages, especially look for the telltale verb forms of “to be.” Besides being a weak verb, forms of “to be” can be a tip-off that there is a direct characterization statement. Once you find it, try and think of a way to subtly paint what you have brazenly stated.
Tip #2: While writing, if you find you have written a statement (eg She was shy.) Stop and fix it right then and there. And do this for three main reasons. First, it cuts down on your editor telling you that you’re telling and not showing—no one wants to sound like or listen to a broken record. Second, it cuts down on the time it takes to edit your manuscript. The less telling you do, the less rewriting you have to do! Third, this to establish the habit of critically eyeballing what you’re writing while you write. This kind on-the-job training hones your skills because practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re practicing incorrectly, so correct a stylistic mistake as soon as it’s made.
I hope this information was either a good refresher for your or that you found it helpful for either correcting a bad habit or looking at new ways to create and shape your characters. I want to leave you with this note from one very successful writer:

“Every human being has hundreds of separate people liing under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have relate to other characters living with him.”

Mel Brooks

Colby Wolford
Historical Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is your manuscript ready to submit?

Is it technically clean? Grammar? Punctuation? Formatted properly? Have you followed submission guidelines for the agent or editor you are submitting to? Yes? Then what else will your manuscript need?

It needs to be brilliant. It must stand out from the crowd. Your ghost story may be a little Ghost and Mrs. Muir mixed with Ghost--not a bad concept at all. If so, you have two good examples of concepts to blend. Make certain you fulfill the expectations of the reader.

Taking your writing from beyond good to great. Several books recommend methods to help you understand the difference and ways to evaluate your own work. There are also a couple of blogs I think may be helpful. During a recent weekend workshop on writing, one point struck me as solid genius, and the idea stuck. Think about the best books you’ve ever read. Out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, how many are memorable? Why? What was it about the subject or characters or plot which made that particular book stand out from the rest? Does your book contain those same elements?

Consider the number of manuscripts agents, editors, and publishers see versus the number of books actually published. How do professionals decide whether to publish one well written, technically perfect vampire novel over another? Or one gut wrenching romance over another? One mystery with compelling twists and turns…instead of another? The answer for a first time author may be in evaluating the first published books by bestselling authors in the genre you write. Once the author’s first book has been contracted, do we ever see that same attention to detail in follow up books? We should. And often we do. But compare your book to the first best seller by Stephen King or one of your favorite authors. A good example might be Harry Potter. The manuscripts were turned down over and over again by many traditional publishers. The first book in the series had to be strong enough, well written enough, unique enough to take a chance with, because buying a young adult fantasy series was a stretch at the time. What did happen, was that the stories had universal appeal. They were well written, the characters were fully developed with the potential to expand as the series did. The plot had a villain worthy of the title and a cast of characters we cared about and wanted to know.

Compare it to Hunger Games. The audience is a little older but the adventure contains the same unique elements. And the first book is strong enough to hold on to fans for the second book, etc. What about Outlander by Diana Gabaldon? Adult content, a historical - time travel - romance. Don’t tell the men who read this series as historical fiction that it is also a romance. Don’t tell anyone grounded in reality about the time travel aspect. Yet even while crossing genres, this series worked. The answer to the question of what makes a best seller--besides selling books--is doing it well—better than the rest.

It’s no longer enough to write a technically perfect novel. To stand out from the rest, the manuscript must rise above all those well written stories. Your story must be robust, your manuscript a masterpiece. Each chapter should demonstrate genius. Tighten the CONCEPT. Clarify the HOOK. Tweak your PREMISE. Each scene must address GOAL, MOTIVATION, and CONFLICT. Then review each of these points and see if you can elevate your novel to the next level, and then the next. Good luck. I’m looking forward to seeing it soon.


Another trick to writing your novel is learning about screenwriting. The first course I took featured Sid Field’s concepts. Those of you using Scrivner for writing may be familiar with the screenwriting program Final Draft. I’ve left a couple of links here for you that may be helpful in plot development.

That being said, a word of caution: Good dialogue generates information in your story, but it shouldn’t replace narrative completely, especially deep point of view. Deep point of view (the characters’ gut feelings and thoughts) is what makes a reader feel or care about the characters and invest emotion in the story. Investment drives commitment. Commitment drives memories. Memories make books remarkable. Remarkable books make best sellers.

Frances Sevilla
Editor - The Wild Rose Press
Fantasy and Crimson

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don’t Be Stingy With Setting Details

One problem I see in many submissions to the Sweetheart line is the scant amount of details used to describe setting. Often, I’ve read several pages into chapter one and haven’t seen the name of a city mentioned (even if the city is invented) or a geographic region, or worse—any clues as to the time of day or the weather conditions.

Not only do the details help the reader get a sense of where these people are, but the details allow the author to create the backdrop for the action. If the author doesn’t describe the place where the characters are interacting, then the reader will do it by whatever is available. They might look for clues in how the characters talk or if the heroine orders a diet pop (Midwest) or the hero grabs a chili dog from a street vendor (big city) or they walk a couple blocks downtown to a corner where several food trucks are parked (seen this in California).

But that’s not the readers’ job—that’s the responsibility of the author. Look at the following two paragraphs and see what a difference the inclusion of a few details makes in the creation of mental images.

Example 1: Sue Branford adjusted the strap of her messenger bag, crossed the street, and turned down the block. She had to get to the newspaper office and get her story submitted within the hour. The air was hot and she squinted at the sky.

Example 2: The seconds ticked down on the traffic light, and Sue Branford adjusted the strap of her messenger bag while balancing on the edge of the curb. As soon as she spotted the ‘walk’ sign flashing, she dodged around the cab straddling the crosswalk, slammed a hand on the trunk, and then ignored the cabbie’s long blasted honk and taunt as she dashed for the corner. The offices of The Riverdale Gazette were only two blocks away but felt like ten in this 90 degree heat, and her deadline was less than an hour away. Meeting that would be tight.

Obviously, the second paragraph is longer and provides more details, specific ones, which allow the reader to start building the scene in his or her head. Look at the items included and what can be derived from them:

Traffic light (modern type)
Balancing on curb, dodging around cab (shows impatience in character)
Cab (not a small town)
Big enough city that cabbies honk & yell taunts (sorry to decent cab drivers)
Name of newspaper (hints at fictional town)
High heat (probably summer time)
Tight deadline (either her story is long, or maybe controversial and will need fact-checking)

As an editor, I’m looking for stories that get me right into the action but also give me a feel for where the story occurs. I don’t want to be on the fifth or sixth page, following along as the heroine and hero have a cute meet with witty banter only to learn the story takes place on Boston Commons in June and they should have had all sorts of pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, etc. around them and birds chittering in and out of the nearby gardens and ponds, but none of that is included. Such a lost opportunity, and more than likely, a rejection.

NOTE: the examples are not from a submitted query or manuscript, but of my own creation. And the details on Boston Commons were collected from a Google search in less than 15 seconds.

I love to see comments of your preference for setting details.

Leanne Morgena
Senior Editor, Sweetheart Rose line

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Wild Rose Press Makes a Splash at Moonlight & Magnolias

For the first time, The Wild Rose Press had a presence at Georgia Romance Writers’ Moonlight &

Magnolias annual conference. And they made quite an impression.

Rhonda and RJ came down and took the conference by storm. Rhonda had two days of back-to-back meetings with authors at the Editor & Agent appointments. She also conducted a workshop called, “Ten Ways to Lose an Editor,” and was featured on two Editor and/Agent Q&A panels. RJ was on hand to answer the many technical questions that inevitably come up about publication.

In addition, The Wild Rose Press sponsored our conference bags and they were amazing. Of course, Rhonda lamented that they weren’t pink, but they were green (my favorite color). The bags were very sturdy and I will definitely be hanging on to mine.    

The first thing Rhonda did Friday morning at breakfast on Day 1 of the conference, was to go around to each table and introduce herself. Sounds simple, but no one has ever done that in the history of our chapter conferences as long as I have been attending. That gesture endeared her to the conferees right away and everyone commented on how personable and approachable she was and the fact that they loved the conference bags.

I think their participation did a lot to enhance The Wild Rose Press brand. I know a lot of people were excited about submitting to The Wild Rose Press.  

Personally, I had only communicated by email to Rhonda and RJ, and I finally got a chance to meet them in person. That makes all the difference, putting a name to a face and cementing relationships.
Rhonda and RJ and their authors went to dinner the night before the conference. Authors attending included Melissa Klein, Robin Weaver and Suzanne Rossi. We had an opportunity to meet each other and sit with Rhonda and RJ at different meals and events.

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend for me was the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence. I was nominated in the Published Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category for my TWRP humorous women’s fiction, Significant Others. Although I didn’t win, being a Maggie finalist was an honor. And Rhonda and RJ were on hand to share it. Thanks also to my wonderful editor, Nan Swanson.

We had great speakers throughout the weekend, ranging from Marie Force, Wendy Wax and Roni Loren and three days of craft workshops on a variety of topics. We also had an author signing for Literacy and I got to sign my new TWRP humorous women’s fiction, Stones.

Moonlight & Magnolias is always a great conference, but this year, because of the participation of Rhonda and RJ, it was even more memorable. If Rhonda or RJ are ever in your town, take the opportunity to meet with them. Better still, invite them to your local chapter conference or to present at a chapter meeting. They will make you proud to be a Wild Rose Press author.

By Marilyn Baron

To see more on Marilyn

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Editor's Story...

When I started writing about eight years ago, I started at home. Alone.

I handwrote my story in a journal-like book and later spent weeks entering it into the computer. It took a long time because I couldn’t read my own writing and I had many more ideas along the way I wanted to include.

Since then, I’ve gained some friends to help me along the way. I joined National RWA and then joined my local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors, TARA, where I learned all realms of the spectrum from query letters to marketing the final product. I also joined a two-person critique group and got invaluable information and insight from them.

Since I write Romantic Suspense I joined the Just Romantic Suspense group and get newsletters and advice from them as a group and also on their loop individually.

Around this time, I was still writing at home. Alone. For want of staying connected to other people, I started copyediting for The Wild Rose Press. I received a huge book of Chicago Manual of Style and did my best to follow their guidelines. And the books, wow, I read so many good books for free it was unbelievable. It kept me busy while I was thinking about what would happen next in my own book.

I also joined the Kiss of Death chapter where I was able to virtually attend numerous classes for a nominal fee. From there I merged into Lethal Ladies, an online critique group where I sent them one of my chapters to critique and I would critique two of anyone else’s in the group. I received invaluable information from these critiques and I have virtually met so many nice people from around the world and gained so much knowledge from this group, sometimes I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

So at my TARA group about a year ago, I volunteered to be a mentor to someone who wasn’t published yet, but was working diligently to that end goal. With a full life and full time job it’s hard to make the time. So, I started meeting Connie at Panera Bread at 11 AM for the afternoon every Thursday once a week. We have become great friends and even better writing partners. I look forward to Thursdays every week.

In January 2014, Rhonda asked me if I was interested in becoming an editor. I pondered this question for a few days and decided I’d love to help new friends become authors. So far, it has been satisfying.

Also, in January of 2014, I joined Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA). I jumped in head first attending meetings, setting up and attending fundraisers, and offering creative, new ideas. I met some wonderful veterans, some from WWII and Korea as well as Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. Each veteran, each war with different elements but a commonality they shared. They were all there to protect their country and their families. I’ve met and made close friends with spouses, sons and daughters of veterans no longer with us, some just recently passed. The respect they left with their families is awe-inspiring.

I think it was two years ago when RWA held their national convention in Orlando, Florida. Since I lived less than two hours away it was a no-brainer to go. It was the first one I attended. When I registered on-line they asked for volunteers so I chose the registration desk as a thank you for the invitation. I had a great experience meeting famous and some not so famous, but all wonderful authors. I felt like I was part of the group and became less shy and less inhibited.

When RWA2014 came around, I spent the money and attended it in San Antonio, Texas and can’t tell you how much I learned about inhibitions and walking up to someone of whom you thought was a stranger. I also volunteered at the registration desk again. Everyone I met gave me so much gratification, I felt as if everyone was a friend to me, and I had helped him/her.

Since then, I’ve attended the 29th reunion of my husband’s unit in Viet Nam, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I walked by the over-run registration desk, manned by one man, so I had to ask. Did he need volunteers? “Hell yeah, I need a potty break.” So I began my 4 hours of volunteering at the busy registration desk. When a first-timer to the reunion came in, everybody stopped and applauded him for his courage to attend. I talked to the guys and their spouses, found out where they came from, what they were eating at the banquet Saturday night (had to give them the correct tickets) and where and when did they serve. Those who served the same time as my husband, I sent them to the Quartermaster store where he was volunteering. My husband met some guys he hadn’t seen in 45 years.

There are many things you can do at home. Alone. But reaching out to a person, one on one, shaking their hand, saying “I love your books,” to Jayne Anne Krentz (Amanda Quick) or “Thank you for your service,” to a veteran who had served his/her country in a foreign war zone, are not one of those.

The growth of your heart is larger, your spirit lifted, your fulfillment magnified. You feel complete and ‘one of the group,’ even in a room of strangers.

I look forward to Thursdays to write my own story and help Connie finish hers. I look forward to the bi-weekly DAV fundraisers, and the monthly meetings. I feel like I’m helping someone move forward with his or her life instead of becoming stagnant. I feel complete.

I’m still writing at home. Alone.

Donna Confer
Staff Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Monday, September 22, 2014

A discussion with Black Rose

As an editor with the Black Rose line, I have the opportunity to peer into the lives of some very sensual creatures. Shifters, Vampires, Demons (Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), and other paranormal creatures who by their very nature are sexy and inviting. Our readers expect sexual tension and interaction between characters, but there are some things to keep in mind as you weave your tales for the Black Rose Line.

Sex Should Happen Only Between Main Characters
Your supporting characters should support your hero and heroine. If they are running amok, having sex with each other, and overshadowing your main characters your sex scenes are going to lose their impact. Alluding to or having characters discuss their sex lives is fine, but please don’t include descriptive scenes of sex between supporting players.

If you have a hero or heroine who is highly sexual, please limit their sexual activity to their partner (or proposed partner) in the story. While we are all adults and know that sex outside of relationships occur in society, we like to see sexual activity limited to the hero and heroine. If you feel your characters are better suited to an open relationship you may want to check out our Scarlet line and see if your story is a better fit for their guidelines.  

Build Tension Slowly
Paranormal characters often ooze sexuality. Building up the sexual tension between your characters can create the perfect mood for your hero, heroine, and readers. Seeing their desire woven through the story as it grows can lead to the perfect set up for their first encounter. 

On the Page or Behind Closed Doors
Where and how your characters have sex is up to you as the writer. Paranormal readers seem to prefer descriptive scenes on the page to those behind the scenes, but you should write in a style that is comfortable to you and fits your storyline.

Moves the Story Along
Your sex scenes should add to the story and move it forward. It should be a natural progression of your hero and heroine’s relationship and not forced or gratuitous. Don’t add a sex scene simply because you think you should have one, create a scenario that naturally moves in that direction.  Sex should be just one part of the story. If you find your story has a large percentage of sex or sex is a large focus of the story’s development you may be a budding Scarlet writer. 

Too Much Description

While our Black Rose characters have a lot of sex, there are certain words and verbiage that is limited to the Scarlet line. While we want description, we also need it to be a bit milder than what is found in erotic stories. You editor will most likely point out those words that are off limits, but one way to judge their usage is to imagine saying them to your best friend. If you find yourself turning five shades of red, you may want to choose a different word.  

Lill Farrell
Black Rose Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Punctuating dialogue

I’m consistently seeing submissions with problems in punctuating dialogue. By consistently, I mean it’s rare for me to see dialogue properly punctuated. If you think this could be you, you’re in good company. Some of these manuscripts were good enough to rate an automatic contract offer. A few punctuation problems alone will not turn me off an otherwise good story. However, proper punctuation makes an awfully good impression on a reviewing editor, so today’s post is on punctuating dialogue.

DIALOGUE TAGS Most writers know how to punctuate the basic unit of dialogue using a dialogue tag, like he said. Enclose the spoken line in double quotation marks and separate the dialogue tag from the spoken line with a comma. If the dialogue tag follows the spoken line, the comma goes inside the closing quote mark.

EXAMPLE: “I’ve come to fix your satellite antenna,” she said.

If the dialogue tag comes first, the comma is right after the tag, outside the quote marks, and the final period is inside the closing quote mark.

EXAMPLE: She said, “I’ve come to fix your satellite antenna.”

If the dialogue tag interrupts the spoken line, put a comma inside the first closing quote mark and after the dialogue tag.

EXAMPLE: “I’ve come,” she said, “to fix your satellite antenna.”

ACTION TAGS Using action tags instead of dialogue tags makes a richer, more active piece of writing. Action tags link more character information to the spoken line and create pictures in the reader’s mind. Action tags can precede, follow, or interrupt the spoken line, but each of these options comes with its own problems in punctuation.

Dialogue tags use words that involve making sound, like said, asked, or replied. Action tags can show almost any action, but do not involve making sounds, so, unlike dialogue tags, action tags are not connected to the spoken line with a comma. Treat the spoken line and the action tag as two separate sentences. When the action tag precedes or follows the spoken line, separate the two with a period.

EXAMPLE: She removed her hat and gazed directly into my eyes. “I’ve come to fix your satellite antenna.”

EXAMPLE: “It’s right over there on the porch roof.” I pointed toward the veranda.

When the action tag interrupts the spoken line, that’s when punctuation can get wonky. Use emdashes to show interruption. When the spoken line and the action occur simultaneously, place the emdashes around the action tag outside the quote marks. Don’t put a comma at the end of the first section of dialogue because there’s no pause in the speech.

EXAMPLE: “It’s right over there”—I pointed toward the veranda—“on the porch roof.”

If the spoken line breaks off and then the action occurs, put the emdash at the place where the speech breaks off inside the closing quote mark. Treat the action tag as a separate sentence.

EXAMPLE: “How are you gonna—” I caught sight of her truck. “Oh, you brought your own ladder.”

If the spoken line trails off or hesitates, then resumes, show this with suspension points (ellipsis). Treat the action tag as a separate sentence.

EXAMPLE: “Are you sure you’re okay…” She hoisted the ladder off the truck. “…by yourself?”

These few examples will cover most forms of dialogue. If you can get these right, your editor will be very grateful!

Eilidh MacKenzie
Editor - The Wild Rose press

Monday, September 8, 2014


I’ve been a cover artist at the Wild Rose Press almost from the beginning, as well as an author. I know how important it is for our baby to be wrapped nicely. We have ideas in our head about what makes a good cover. We describe for the artist things like this: “The heroine has emerald green eyes, short red hair, super petite, and short, with a glimmer in her eye. She’s holding sunglasses in her right hand and has a foot on a beach ball.  Her bikini is blue. The font should be Comic Sans, in blue, with a sun reflecting off the pecks of the man behind her, who is a brunette with long hair.”

This may sound wonderful in the head of a creative author, but for a cover artist… it is a moment to cringe.  We spend hours and hours looking for something remotely close to a red head, and all we can find is long hair. Or we find them, but they are all wearing business suits. The more details wanted, the harder it is to comply. And when we can’t find it, you end up with a silhouette. 

So, here are some things to note:

Understand the right artwork is hard to find, so give lots of concepts just in case.
Simpler covers often to sell better, so think less busy.

Don’t be so specific that artists will most likely never find the exact artwork (especially for vintage books)

Find covers that you like and give us links of samples (this helps for us visual people)

Know that it’s okay to let us know about a font you like, but do not expect us to have that particular font. It will likely be similar.

Understand that matching hair, clothes, etc. is difficult, so be broader.

Find out what art website we are currently using (it changes sometimes), find artwork that you like, and give us the art numbers. If we can use them, we will.

Give us location, time of year, and tone of the story. These are the most important elements to making a cover appropriate. Fill your forms completely out. If there is something really important, don’t leave it out.

Consider your title. Often the artwork the author asks for do not match the title. This is confusing for the reader.

And lastly, remember that artists work on royalties too, and really care about the success of your book. We want it to do well.

Blessings and congratulations on your publishing endeavors!

Kim Mendoza
TWRP Cover Artist

Monday, August 25, 2014

The complications of obtaining a review

Ok, so you’ve sweated over writing your story, gone through the torture of edits, navigated the tricky shoals of formatting and finally have a published story.  Now to let the world know that it exists and find folks who will sing your masterpiece’s praises.  Simple, right?  Definitely NOT!

Consider that a reviewer commits at least 1-2 hours, often more like 3-4, to read and review a particular story.  Combine this with the explosion of published and self-published titles and it is no wonder that so many great titles are lacking thoughtful reviews.  A reviewer who takes the time to give a thoughtful evaluation (more than...”I liked it” or “this story was awful”) is quickly overwhelmed by requests and sadly, the joy of having a new tale to read does not necessarily compensate for the need to actually get recompensed for one’s time. 

Start by reaching out to folks who have written to you praising your work.  Politely ask whether they would be willing to write a review for you AND cross-post it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, the publisher’s site, etc.  You might also want to ask if you can quote it elsewhere in the event that you really like some of the things they say.  Some reviewers have their own blogs and are hospitable for authors to come by and visit, others charge to host or advertise.  Don’t forget to mention (particularly if you are participating in a blog tour that features reviews) that you have no issues with the reviewer writing a less than glowing review but would appreciate the opportunity to be notified if the review considers the story to be less than ‘good’.  Diplomatic requests to simply feature the title itself and post the less than complimentary review later should be considered if you are participating in a tour that is directing readers to that site.

In exchange, don’t forget to go by and visit those blogs that are featuring your work.  Vote ‘this review was helpful’ on Amazon, ‘like’ it on Goodreads or Barnes and Noble’s site and ask some of your friends or family to also vote.  That’s an easy way to thank someone for their time and hard work. 

Cross-posting can be pretty frustrating...logging into sites, dealing with the eccentricities of each one, fighting off (or at least learning to ignore) the trolls that sometimes appear, so be grateful when a reviewer is willing to cross-post a review.  Don’t forget to ask if they can put it on the publisher’s website as well (if applicable).  A thank-you note is always appreciated...and it is even more thrilling if the review is quoted your newsletter, on your blog...or...on your book itself.  Reviewers are thrilled to see their words being shared (you’re an author, you know how good it feels when someone likes what you have written!) and once you have found someone who obviously likes your work, try to keep the lines of communication open so that you can ask that person about subsequent titles.  Please remember that this is a time commitment and try to give a reviewer a copy of the title well in advance of when you want the review posted and then send a polite reminder a week or two in advance of the preferred date. 

Remember not to get into arguments with those who write critical or hurtful reviews, better to take the high road and either thank them for their opinion or ignore it completely but by all means, make sure you thank those who are willing to write a review with constructive criticism as well as those who are positive and supportive.  Above all, remember that every person has a different opinion so don’t obsess over what is being written.  If there is something to learn, go ahead and do so, but if somebody is being malicious, ignore it, remember that there are plenty of nutty folks in the world!  

The Wild Rose Press

Monday, August 18, 2014

“And then? And then?” by Nan

Eons ago, in the dark ages of my past, a popular comedy routine had the line, “And then? And then?” It was funny, the way they did it, but now as I edit it’s not so funny when an author uses “then” repeatedly.

So many other possibilities exist for expressing the same time framing, if it needs to be expressed at all. (Sometimes it doesn’t, really, you know.

For instance:
*He jumped into the saddle and then rode off.
Leave out “then” and what difference does it make?
Other fixes for your “then” fixation could be using words like “before,” “after,” or “following,” if you feel the need to line up action in a time-sequence order:
*She patted his hand before leaving the table.
*He went to the door after he gave the book to the boy.
*After he gave the book to the boy, he went to the door.
*Following their picnic, they bathed in the stream.

Experiment with various ways of writing your sentences to avoid using the same sentence patterns and the same word choices over and over again. Thank you!


*No examples are from manuscripts I’ve seen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images.

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images. The sense of sight is overused, it’s easy to tell what the character is seeing, not so easy to tell what something feels, sounds or tastes like.

Try things like: The air tasted like pennies, tart and coppery. The monkey’s fur touched her cheek, bringing memories of Grandfather’s workshop, and the wads of used sandpaper on the floor. The air bit into her sinuses just like the Vicks Vapo Rub Mother used to glob on her chest.

How about this: Go outdoors. Stand barefoot in the grass, or on your fire escape. Close your eyes and let your senses take over. What do you hear: the rustle of daisies in the breeze? A couple arguing down on the sidewalk? What do you smell: your neighbor’s woodstove? Gasoline fumes? Breathe through your mouth. What does the air taste like: mildewy leaves? Tangy like acid rain? Is the grass damp with dew? Does the fire escape remind you of a bridge from which you’re about to fall?

Go indoors now—wait, open your eyes first.

Now, close them again and do the same as a moment ago. What do you smell: the baby’s dirty diaper in the trashcan? Do you hear the kids’ footsteps upstairs? Can you tell which kid is which by the way they run? Did you get goosebumps realizing you’d forgotten a pot on the stove?

Challenge your creativity. Everyone knows how a bakery smells, but what does it sound like?

Everyone has an idea of what war sounds like, but what does the air taste like?
Take everyday things like the rumble of your neighbor’s car on a cold morning. What visual image does it conjure from your childhood: the time you went shopping with your mother and threw up on her best coat?

Your favorite bathrobe is soft on your face, but what flavorful memory does it evoke—when you and your husband went to that B&B for your fifth anniversary and had apple pancakes for breakfast?

These are the sorts of images you should present to your readers; things they can sink their senses into; things that stimulate their memories and images. 

Cindy Davis
just released On the Hook
first in the Smith & Westen series

Monday, August 4, 2014

Playing On Pinterest

You have a Pinterest account, but are you using it for promotion.

I'm going to speak to you as an author and using Pinterest to promote your books and your brand.

First the basics. Don't upload your covers, rather "pin" them from retailers. For all images you'll use, it's a good rule to always "pin" from the internet rather than upload. You won't violate any copyrights if you are "pinning" and not uploading.

You'll start by building a board. You can "Pin" the cover from Amazon, Nook, Kobo etc. this will direct anyone who clicks on your pin to your purchase page at retailers. Another way would be to use a blog post. Put your cover, your blurb, a catchy excerpt, and at the bottom of the blog post, list all the retail links. this way you can do one "Pin" to purchase. It also gains exposure for your blog.

But what else would be a good "Pin" for this board? Where did your story take place? Let's say Times Square in New York City on New Year's Eve? Find an article on the web about what to do in Times Square. Google/Yahoo search on the best bistro in Times Square. Pin that article to your board. How about walking tours in Times Square? Anything to do with Times Square and NYC could be pinned to that board. What else could you "Pin" to your story board? What about what your characters do for a living? Is he a chef? Pin recipes you find on the net. Are they into sports? Pin their favorite sport teams. If they are into football and cooking, pin Superbowl party snacks.

The purpose of pinning is to not only build a story board for your story, but to reach "followers" who aren't necessarily looking for your book, but find you because they were looking for a recipe, a travel destination, a way to decorate their home for Christmas or how to grow tomatoes. So look at your story and pin what your characters would pin.

And build a following. Follow back, search for new people to follow. Don't just follow other authors. As you are searching the web for articles, also search Pinterest. Pin from other Pinterest accounts and begin to create connections. Unlike other social media, there is no chat or heavy interaction on Pinterest. It's a bulletin board of pictures that lead to articles of interest. So don't be scared to follow, share pins, and build an active busy collection of boards.

Questions? Leave them in a comment.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Cover Art Wild Rose Press Style

Over the course of the last year or so, we at The Wild Rose Press, have been experimenting with our own photography for our cover art.  Our first photo shoot took place in August of 2013 at our headquarters in New York.

We had four wonderful models who did their best to pose under the intense scrutiny of several of our editors.  Although the editors’ requests were sometimes a bit unusual, they were fabulous ideas.  Needless to say, it was one hilarious and yet productive adventure.  In the end we managed to capture some wonderful images, many of which are in use today. 

We hope to continue to produce more exclusive cover art from our own stock and look to our authors for ideas.  Not to knock the wonderful models and stock art that is available over the Web, but it can get pretty redundant.  Same faces, same poses…same
story?  No way! 

So what we’d like to do is to focus more on scenes and objects, and abstracts in design over the course of this year, and see what other exclusive Wild Rose Press cover art we can create.  We hope that you, our authors, will think about things we might be able to capture exclusively for your book without using the same old stock photography that’s available to everyone with all the same faces.  Help us make your cover as unique as your story.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Everything old shouldn’t be new again

There’s a trend these days for authors to take older books, revise them slightly and put a new cover on them and release them again.  I know this practice has gone on for years but lately it is even more prevalent as more and more authors jump into the self-published game.   Frankly, as a reader, I hate this practice. 

It is extremely frustrating for any reader to purchase a book that sounded promising, only to find after reading the first ten pages or so that it is extremely familiar.  A few more pages, and its confirmed that not only did you already read that book, now you paid for it twice.  I know I feel duped  and I get extremely annoyed at the author for being dishonest.

As a fellow author, I have to wonder, why  not just write something new?   Obviously, you know how to write. You’ve proven that by all the books you already have done. Every author in the world will tell you they have more ideas for stories then they could have write in a lifetime.  Why not get them out there?  Why go back in time and recreate something that was done and finished?  Is it laziness?  Or is it simply doing what everyone else is doing? 

When an author writes something new, generally readers who haven’t read that author before, will go looking for his/her older titles.  The best promotion in the world, the best way to increase sales is always to write something new and release it.  Our best-selling authors have several stories out there all the time.  We see a nice uptick in sales for an author whenever she releases a new product if she has several titles with us.  To me, that makes sense.

Older isn’t always better and everything old sometimes shouldn’t be new again.  Remember things like orange shag carpet and parachute pants?  Do we really want to go back and bring those out again?  Your older books were written when you might have been a new author, you didn’t know what you do now.  Why revisit them?  Move on.   They did what they were intended to do at the time.  Leave them in the past and write something fresh and new.  The bonus is if you pick up a new reader, he/she will go back and buy that old title anyway.  It makes good marketing sense and good career sense.  Stretch yourself as a writer, don’t fall back on what you’ve already accomplished.

You don’t want to fool your readers.  Trust me, they won’t take a chance on you again if they’ve paid for the same book twice.  So next time you are thinking you’ll just slap on a new cover and re-release something, why not think about your readers and what that means to them and give them what they really want, a brand new exciting story.

Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief
“To garden is to believe in the future”

Monday, July 7, 2014

What’s In a Name? By Masha Holl

Originally published on the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

Writing Mechanics: What’s In a Name? By Masha Holl

There's more in a name than you think. And it all depends on how you look at it.

Sometimes a character springs up all ready, clothed, in full color, and named. Sometimes, a character is a nebulous creature that needs a lot of refining, from looks to style, down to the name you will call him or her for the next weeks, months, or years, that it will take you to craft your story.

So how do you find a name? Let me tell you the ways...

I. Seven Don'ts for finding names for your characters:

1.   Don't use baby-name books for foreign or historical names. Use dictionaries and scholars as sources. In places far away and in times past, naming traditions were not like our own. Big surprise. In fact, in times past, and in to this day in some faraway places, naming is a complex ritual that must follow set patterns of great significance for the child and the adult. Not applying them properly could cause a reader to throw the book at the wall. Turn to someone who has solid knowledge of the culture you're writing about to help you with the naming.

2. Don't forget the meaning of a name. It can trigger a cascade effect that will suggest entire plot lines. Sometimes, the sound of a name is enough to satisfy a writer. Not me. I like the play with the meaning of the name. Or a pun on the origin or the sound of a name. I have a werewolf character whose name is Lucas. Why? Lupus-wolf in Latin-  sounds a lot like Lucas. I have a photographer with a last name Lucien. The name is derived from lux, which, in Latin, means light. Photographers work with light. I don't attach any deep meaning to the names, but a play on sound, on etymology, or on meaning helps me focus my character.

3. Don't rely on baby name books and web sites for the etymology of names. Few of them are put together by linguists, nor are thoroughly researched. Always double-check the information. I always look up the Russian names in baby name books, and then the French names, because I can spot mistakes very easily. I always spot very basic mistakes. I do know whereof I speak. If I can't trust the selfsame books to give me information I can verify how can I trust them to provide me with information I do not know?

4. Don't use the same initial of the same beginning sound for more than one character per story. Cathy and Carmen are too close to fit in one novel. So are Cathy and Katerina. But Cindy and Corrina are OK. Sound is more important than the actual written letter, but too many names looking alike will confuse the reader. The reader doesn't like to be confused. Better keep your character's names varied. No, it's not like real life. It's called fiction. Unless, of course, everybody else in the story is confused and it's a significant aspect of the plot. But you would have to justify it.

5.    Don't use gender-ambiguous names -- unless you do it on purpose. The name makes the character. Make sure a man's name sounds like it, too. Unless you want it to be effeminate. It's all up to you but be mindful of the effect of the name. I'm not talking fashion and passing associations between names and popular characters, but names that could be either masculine or feminine. Does Robin stand for Robert or Roberta? It can work either way.

6. Don't use first names as last names if it's going to confuse the reader. Especially if they're gender-ambiguous. Unless you're doing it on purpose. Mike Robert might look like a good name, but you're going to trip someone with it. Yourself first in all likelihood. It's not a very hard fix to change it to Mike Roberts. Or even better Robertson.

7.    Don't apply English grammar to foreign names. People spend years learning foreign languages. They will throw your book at the wall if you don't respect their hard work.

II. Seven Dos for finding names for your characters:

1.   Do recite the alphabet. The sound or shape of an initial letter might bring up the perfect name. Sound is important. It will not matter, not consciously, to your reader. But you have to like your character, and the sound of the name is part of it. Listening to it, or looking at the shape of letters as initials of a character's name is an entirely different game from reading ordinary words on a page. A big part of writing is playing mind tricks with yourself.

2. Do use good name dictionaries that provide the history and meaning of a name. Even if you don't share it with your readers, the information can help crystallize some aspect of your character's nature for you. And you'll have readers who will enjoy looking for it. Just imagine you're building a fan base. You're becoming well known for the small details. Your readers research the meaning of your character's names and how it reflects their nature, their background, or their deep dark secrets. All that can be contained in one little name. A key for you to use.

3. Do break the rules. But know the rules first. Length of name and sound combinations will affect a reader's reaction to your character. But you can only control that in your own language. And your own time. A name will sound odd to another culture regardless of your effort at making it universal. But then a reader who picks up a book by a foreign author expects strangeness, so we shouldn't worry about that. There's really only one rule to anything in writing: don't confuse the reader. And that means, make names memorable, pronounceable, and distinct.

4. Do consider the sound of a name. And the feel. And your first reaction to it. It's a good bet your reader will have a similar reaction. Need I say more?

5.    Do use other writers' ideas, even Great Writers such as Austen, Tolstoy, and Dickens. How did they pick their names? How do the names correspond to the characters? Don't be afraid to learn from the masters. Tolstoy often played on names of real people. We will never forget Austen or Dickens's heroes. Why should we avoid reading and learning from them? Why should we limit ourselves to what's on the market right now? It would be like learning to write by typing on a keyboard. What if the power went off? Shouldn't you be able to handle a simple pencil? Old fashioned never goes out of style in writing.

6. Do play with spelling -- but know what you're doing. There are variations, but there are also rules. We're back to the dictionary here. Variations on names are one thing, but creative spelling is a distracter you don't want to impose on your readers. Unless, of course, you need to do it on purpose for a specific character. But then it becomes a plot point, and that's another story altogether. A corollary of the "don't confuse your reader" rule is: "keep it simple". Which doesn't mean "keep it moronic". Streamline it. Smooth it out. Make it glide.

7.   Do make sure that the form of the name fits the genre of your story. Time, place, the vast universe... Don't give your Viking a cowboy name, or your Victorian lady a Chicago moll moniker. The same applies to the spelling of said names. And check all of it before you send it to any agent or editor. They know a lot about all of this.

If your critique partner, or group, expresses doubts about names, take it under advisement, but check the historic and linguistic accuracy of names with someone who's a specialist in the field. A graduate student. A professor. A fellow writer with an advanced degree, or proven research experience. Someone who's good at surfing the Web for tidbits of information is not necessarily a good source. Not necessarily bad, but...

Masha Holl was raised on magic tales, Russian literature, Mozart, Verdi, and French cuisine. Today, she writes romantic science fiction and fantasy---that's werewolves, spaceships, and alien universes---to the sounds of Metal Rock.  

Reprinted with permission.