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