What Phrases Stopped You in Your Tracks…In a Good Way?

What stops your reading?

What stops your reading?

As a critique partner, one of our jobs is to mark the sentences or phrases that stop us in our tracks and pull us out of the story. In most cases, those are big No-No’s that should be stricken from the manuscript.

As a reader and aspiring author, I strongly believe it’s still important to highlight sentences that stop you in your tracks, but they should be the ones that you appreciate for their wit, humor, how they intrigued you to read more, or how they described something perfectly. Be sure to log them into a journal, a note pad, or scratch paper that you can look at after you’ve gathered 10 or so. My suggestion would be to gather them from different sources, at least 3 or 4 different books.

Why

Simply because once you look at that list again, you’ll start to see a pattern. You should be able to pick out what precisely attracted your attention. It could be the cadence of the sentence, the use of metaphor or simile; whatever it was that gave you pause.

And then…?

Create writing exercises based on those phrases. Describe a character in a similar manner, but with your own voice to it. Start a chapter using the same type of sentence cadence. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you copy anyone. I’m saying that by recognizing what you like about other author’s voice, you can refine your own.

Here are examples of a few that I grabbed:

  • Now that… was a cure for constipation
  • She has Little Sister Radar. She knows exactly when I’m busy, and that’s when she pounces.
  • Poor Reeves. She looked as comfortable as if she was standing naked in front of her history class giving a report on the Salem Witch Trials using her own body as a visual aid to all of the tortures.
  • …understanding took root and grew limbs…
  • The sharpness of my sympathy almost cut my heart into shreds
  • He said that we needed to get to know each other better, so he started to throw out details as if they were bullets…and I was the target.
  • The virus was a knife to my face, carving away at my cheeks, sharpening my chin, thinning my nose.
  • I didn’t need him to buy my lies. I just needed him to rent them for a while.

Can you see a pattern to what I’ve picked out? Even if you don’t, that’s ok, I do. ; ) Now start your own list!

Stacked Books

How a Broken Microwave Helped Me Write

Not my actual broken microwave

If for no other reason than the title intrigued you, I am glad that you are visiting my blog. Today’s blog centers around how my broken microwave helped me write.

What exactly was wrong with the microwave, you might ask? The Heating Element went out. And since it was the second time that it failed, we decided to replace it and are never going to buy a GE product again. But I digress. . .

Since over-the-range microwaves cost a bit more than the college dorm variety, we had to wait a bit to save up for a new one. In the meantime, we had to do things the old fashioned way. We actually had to cook everything instead of nuke it. Not only did this make us very frugal with the amount of food we cooked, because there was no reheating it later. But also it slowed everything down . . .time to get the milk to a screaming baby, no popcorn for DVD night, etc. Yeah, real hardships, I know, but I challenge you guys to go without a microwave to defrost food (among other things) for a while and see if you’re not whining for modernity.

As I was coming to the conclusion of my Victorian Romance, I found myself having difficulty drawing everything to a close, partly because I didn’t want to say goodbye to my characters, and partly because I didn’t want to drag on the ending. So that left me with a bit of writer’s block. What should I write to satistfactorily close the novel?

A *BLANK SCREEN* blinked at me relentlessly for days.

Since I was forced to experience weeks without microwave, I decided to go back to writing, as if I didn’t have modern tools, like a laptop.

And I have to say . . .there’s just something about writing out notes and ideas on paper. Drawing circles and lines and arrows for brainstorming. It’s fabulous. I know there’s an Apple equivalent for this called iThought and if I ever get an iPad, you better believe I’m going to buy that app, but still, it’s the ability to draw out your thoughts in a different way than you would just typing on a keyboard.

Along with writing long-hand, I also did other old-school tricks:

Writing exercises – like listening to a specific song (preferably without words) and listening to it a few times before trying to imagine a scene based purely on the music. Write what’s happening based on the music alone: it does not necessarily have to involve anything from your current WIP. (Thanks Chris Green for that oldie-but-goodie writing exercise)

Brainstorm bubbling – I alluded to it earlier, but to reiterate, use a blank sheet of paper and draw a circle in the center and write a phrase for a scene you’re working on. Then take off in different directions with alternative What-If scenarios like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Book (am I dating myself?) and see where your ideas take you.

Stovetop Popcorn – So there’s definitely some finesse required to this . . .just enough kernals with just the right ratio of butter/flavoring, and just the right amount of time, plus constance viligance watching them pop in the pot. This was great for idea brewing. I would imagine my characters are the kernals, and by adding just the right amount of oil and the perfect level of heat and they popped into a tasty treat. If I overheated them, turned my back on them, or didn’t keep them moving, the popcorn would burn. (There’s nothing worse than the smell of burned popcorn – blech) I liken this to  how a scene can over-burden a reader with a giant info-dump. The right timing, amount, and (for writing only) placement is key.

It really can be done.

More than anything a broken microwave reminded me how to get-back-to-basics and reinforced to me that just because something is old (like writing exercises) it doesn’t mean that it’s not helpful or worthwhile to stock your arsenal with.

Thanks for stopping by.

Q and A with Deb Werksman, editor at SourceBooks

Hi Everyone,

I have been checking out the blog tour on Romance Author Hotspot and it’s been so fun. If you’ve never been on a Blog Tour, this sis a great first experience, at least it has been for me. I’m not all the way through it yet, however I have been reading through Deb Werksman interview, which is great, but the REAL gold is found in the comments section, where Deb answers readers’ questions. I’ll repeat it at the end but go to www.romanceauthorhotspot.com and click on the header for Summer Bash 2011.

Here is just a snippet of what you’ll find in the comments section:

Q: What is your editorial criteria?

DW:

  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created that she can escape into
  • a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
  • the author has a clear career arc–i.e., if readers love the first book, what
    are we giving them next, and next and next?

Q: Would like to know what kind of stories would you like to see cross your desk (something that would really excite you)?

DW:

  • straight contemporaries that are fun to read (not issues-based, which I don’t think works in romance)
  • romantic suspense with law enforcement theme/characters
  • romantic comedy
  • commercial women’s fiction with a great hook and an unusual premise
  • Georgian and Victorian England historical romance

Q: Also, what kind of stories/genre do you think needs to be freshened up?
DW: paranormal romance and erotic romance

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Go check out the rest of the great blogs on the tour. There are many new-to-you authors to explore. www.romanceauthorhotspot.com

Happy Exploring!

Suzy Kue

 

Call for Submissions – July through September

Hi Everyone,

Submission Time!

Hopefully you have some material all polished and ready to go to fit these categories.

Good luck to you!

___________________________________________________________________

The following information was first printed in the July 2011 Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers.

JULY CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

XoXo Publishing is seeking original, never published before short stories written by unpublished and published writers. 2,500 to 4,500 words. Romances of all genres, safe-sex couples, sensuous romances, sweet, historical etc. Celebrating
dance of all kinds be it the dance of courtship or actual physical dance. Manuscript must be sent in as MS Word doc, attachment.12 pt Times New Roman. Double spaced and fully edited.

Deadline July 31, 2011.

                                                             _________________________________________

Angels & Fairies

There are angels who are good and pure and perfect — and there are angels whose halos are a bit, well, crooked. And tarnished. They’re naughty angels, and they’ve got more fun things to do than play harps and float on clouds.

Ravenous Romance is looking for steamy, sexy short stories for an anthology that features angels — the naughtier, the better. M/F, M/M, F/F, and ménage stories welcome. Submit your stories to acquisitions editor Jennifer Safrey at jen@ravenousromance.com. Please include a short query letter in the body of the email and the story as an attachment.

Deadline August 1, 2011.

____________________________________________

Samhain Superheroes

It’s up, up and away we go, to a world of superheroes and supervillains, where  heroes and/or heroines with special abilities and crime-fighting prowess  protect the public…and fall in love.

I’m very happy to announce an open call for submissions for a new,  yet-to-be-titled spring 2012 superhero romance anthology. For more information  on what I’m looking for when I ask for superhero stories, check out these  entries on wikipedia.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero_fiction

I’m open to M/F, M/M, F/F, or multiples thereof, any sexual heat level, and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.

The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be  considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in  spring 2012 and in print approximately one year later.

Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously  published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts  previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be  considered either. Be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot  be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

Please note: fanfiction of popular, trademarked and copyrighted superheroes  will not be considered. Only original works please.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full  manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, be sure to use the naming convention  Superhero_Title_MS and Superhero_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn’t get missed in the many submissions we receive, and
makes it easy for me to find in my e-reader.

Submissions are open until September 1, 2011. No submissions will be accepted after this date—no exceptions.

http://www.samhainpublishing.com/special-calls/

_______________________________________________

Ellora’s Cave Love Letters

~ Story length 18K – 45K words.

~ Any genres, settings.

~ Must use the theme as a primary story element.

Submission deadlines are firm. Earlier is preferred.

LOVE LETTERS

Theme is love letters, cards, diaries.

Stories will release in January/February 2012 (in time for Valentine’s Day).

Submission deadline is August 31, 2011.

Send a professional cover email, a detailed synopsis (2 to 5 pages describing  setting and main characters and outlining full plot, including resolution), the  first three chapters and the final chapter of your manuscript via email as an  attached file (doc or rtf format) to Submissions@ellorascave.com.  Note: We are an e-publisher and all our work is done electronically; we do not
accept paper submissions.

Compiled by Louisa Bacio. Bacio’s new erotic paranormal The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome is now available. Visit her at http://www.louisabacio.com.

Research for your novel

Ahhh, research.

It can be great fun – perusing through various blogs and search engines to find just the right tidbit of information to make your plot lines and characterization become real and satisfying.

Or, it can be the bane of your existence.

And that’s kind of what I’m feeling right now with my latest manuscript. Through excellent critique partners – both pubbed and unpubbed, I have found out that within my Victorian novel, there’s some question as to my use of Guardianship Laws.

Thus, I went about, in my usual manner and Googled “Victorian Guardianship Laws.”

To my dismay, there isn’t much information out there that was wholly useful. Yes – Google did it’s job by spitting out all the websites that specifically say, “Victorian Guardianship Laws,” plus all the other crazy information that comes with it. But none of the first few pages actually dealt with the Victorian era.

Argh!!! What do you do when Google fails you????

Luckily for me – I belong to an online historical chapter called the Beau Monde (www.thebeaumonde.com) where they have an excellent loop where I asked my question, even though it wasn’t specifically on the time period of the chapter (which is the Regency) but they gave me something important . . . another place to look.

So – now I am going back to Google, BUT I am going to Google Books and I’m going to do select my specific time period and away I go. Wish me luck.

By the way – how do you research?

CALL for Submissions: Halloween and Thanksgiving short stories

As a newsletter for an online chapter, I come across so many articles that I don’t fit our newsletter and it’s a shame that you might not get to see them. So hopefully by my placing them here, you’ll gain the benefits like I do. Enjoy!_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The following article was first printed in the June 2011 Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Right as we hit the beginning of summer, are you ready to start thinking about the holidays? No … well, the publishers have planted the seed. It’s the time of  year to start looking forward. This month, the calls feature Halloween and
Thanksgiving. And guess what: Christmas and other winter wonderlands must be just around the corner!

MIDNIGHT SEDUCTION

Evernight Publishing is looking for stories 5,000 – 10,000 words for our upcoming Halloween anthology. Edited by Kimberly Bowman. All submissions will need to be thoroughly edited with engaging characters, plots that pack a punch,
and strong romantic elements with a HEA or HFN.

Think demons, shifters, and vamps. What about a witch with a naughty fetish? An alpha shifter in a race to find his mate, or a gargoyle who can only court his human lover when the sun is down?

These Halloween shorts need to be hot and titillating! Send a brief synopsis and the full manuscript to evernightsubmissions@gmail.com. Deadline: June 24, 2011.

TINA B’s ALTERNATIVE MILITARY ROMANCE

XoXo Publishing presents Submissions Call for their newest line.
Stories must be:
• 4,500 words
• They must focus on a couple
• Safe sex is a must
• Must be a romance-driven story
• One or both main characters should be military or former personnel.

Tina’s B stories offer readers a diversion from the ordinary by introducing stories that explore higher levels of sexual intensity while maintaining the emotional value of relationships. We encourage authors to write persuasive emotionally intense stories while fully developing their characters to the extreme and beyond sensuality. Submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines WILL NOT BE considered for publication.

Submit your completed polished manuscript to tina@xoxopublishing .com; Subject line: Tina’s Anthologies military. Deadline is Aug. 15, 2011.

LIKE A COMING WAVE

Merfolk and naiads cavort among the rolling waves, while selkies and sprites winnow below – though not so deep as the serpents or kraken, far beyond the reach of the sirens’ song or Charybdis and Scylla’s hungry mouths. The ocean is a vast playground of creatures real and imagined, rife with power and depth. We want to know how this translates into the sensuality and sexuality of those who live in and around Earth’s last frontier. How do merfolk court? Do the denizens
of the sea get worked up by great storms? What happens if a naiad gets stuck in a tide pool? We’re looking for stories that focus on the humanity in the inhuman, the exploration of unfamiliar boundaries, and the instincts and seductions of creatures that never have to worry about getting somebody wet. Circlet Press welcomes sex-positive stories of all sexualities and preferences.

Submission Details: Length: Our preferred length is approximately 3,500 to 7,500 words, but we will consider the range from 2,000 to 10,000 words. All submissions must be made via email Andrea Trask, editor, at the following address: blisswrites@gmail.com. Deadline: July 31, 2011.

All stories must include explicit sexuality and erotic focus. Romantic content is welcome, but in a short story remember to keep the details on the action and its effects on the main character’s internal point of view. Whether first person or third person, a strong, singular narrative voice is our preference (no `head hopping’ or swapping points of view within scene from one character to the other).

For more details on our editorial preferences, see the general submission guidelines on circlet.com (http://www.circlet.com/?page_id=11). We highly recommend reading the guidelines, especially the “do not send” list, to increase your chances of sending us something we’ll love.

Originals only, no reprints. We purchase first rights for inclusion in the ebook anthology for $25, with the additional rights to a print edition later which would also be paid $25 if a print edition happens. Authors retain the rights to the individual stories; Circlet exercises rights to the anthology as a whole.

THANKSGIVING ANTHOLOGY

Cooking a turkey takes hours, and why waste it? What are your characters thankful for on this long holiday weekend? What will they be thankful for before the dinner is served? How would your characters handle the awkward introduction
of an arch rival to the family Thanksgiving getaway?

Silver Publishing is looking for high-quality erotic romance stories for a Thanksgiving anthology. Details: Word Count- 5-18K. Genre- All genres of erotic romance are welcome. Deadline: Aug. 13, 2011; Release date: November 19, 2011.

For submission guidelines, please visit the submission page. When submitting your manuscript , please clearly state that you’re submitting for the “Thanksgiving Anthology” Submission Call. https://silverpublishing.info/page_4

Compiled by Louisa Bacio. Bacio’s new erotic paranormal The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome is now available. Visit her at http://www.louisabacio.com.

The above article was first printed in the June 2011 Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers.

Editor Leis Pederson – Notes on the Publishing Industry and Marketplace

Hi Folks,

This is my last round of notes from our May RWASD Chapter meeting with Leis Pederson. She gave us a lot of great information. This next section relates to the Publishing Industry and market information about it. Again, these were from my own handwritten notes and I did my best to take them accurately. Hope they are useful to you. 

Printing Machine

How important are titles to selling a book? Not hugely important. If a manuscript is submitted with a bad title, it wouldn’t deter Leis from acquiring it, nor selling it. It’s up to the marketing department to come up with something different.

 How much input does an author have on the title of a book? Leis said that she can only comment on how things are done at Berkley Books. But what she asks the author is, “How attached are you to this title? Can we change it?” If the author thinks that it’s very important, then they go back and forth on the exact element of the title that was proposed to see what they can keep and come up with options for Marketing to choose from. But all in all, she wants the author to be happy with the title and doesn’t want it to be forced on them.

Is there a type of book that you wish someone would send you right now? Nothing at the moment.

How much promotion is done for debut authors? It depends on a lot of factors, how many books are coming out that month, if there are back-to-back releases scheduled, etc. No set dollar amount. Berkley Books has a publicity department that handles the print ads (if any), blog posts and social media in general. But they appreciate it when an author does their own promotion as well. It helps everyone.

I have a friend whose book was only on the shelf for 1 week, is that the industry norm? Leis had never heard that. A book on the shelf for only one week wouldn’t be enough to obtain adequate sales. It could be on a kiosk, perhaps, for a week and then moved to a regular book shelf, but none of the books coming out of Berkley would be on the shelf for only one week.

How do you feel about series? She likes them

How is the market for Historical Romances? Leis publishes historical romances and likes them. There are also other editors at Berkley that also publish historicals. They are becoming more difficult to acquire or sell because the readers are becoming more picky about what they buy.

There’s no special time period that they are requesting more than another. If it’s an amazing book, time period doesn’t matter. World War II is the latest they’ll go and still consider it a historical. After that, it’s considered “Retro.”

How has the trend towards eBooks affected BerkleyBooks? Berkley Books’ new policy is to release the eBook at the same time as the traditionally published book. They have an entire legal department that searches out pirated copies of books regularly, but the piraters are pretty smart and change their websites all the time. Authors can also submit websites where their books are pirated and send them to the legal dept to shut down as well.

 What is a Scheduling Board? At Berkley, they have a giant board where they slot books. There is no Bell Curve saying that they can only buy 3 paranormals in a year. Once a book is acquired, it is usually published one year later. That date can move forward or backward depending on if others meet their deadlines or not. It’s a moving target that’s updated regularly.

Do you have any interest in Gothics? Yes – if it’s well written. A Gothic is one of the first books she’s ever edited. They are hard to do well, but a great book is a great book. They want great books.

Why is Chick Lit out of style? Because the market became over-saturated with them. They were so popular that everyone was doing it, and then supply suddenly overwhelmed demand. They are now referred to as Women’s Fiction.

With the economy as it is right now, are publishers steering clear of hard back books? The industry is definitely taking a hit, but it’s changing daily. It really depends on the author whether or not they’ll put it out in hard back.

 What are Sell-Throughs (Sell-Thrus)? They are the percentage of books sold, gross versus net on a book. So if 60,000 copies of a book were printed, and 30,000 copies were sold, that’s a 50% Sell-Thru rate. Publishers want at least 50%. These numbers are not in the contract. Remaindered books are also counted in the Sell-Thru.

 What is Remaindering? It is when the printed books are overstocked in a warehouse and they want to clear it out. They’ll sell them at a discount to stores like Dollar General.

How do you feel about multi-book pitches, and do all the books have to be completed at pitching time? It depends on the book proposal. If it’s a series or a trilogy that’s fine, but the concept needs to grab her. The rest of the books do not need to be completed, but there would need to be a synopsis on them.

How do you feel about Social Media for unpublished authors? It’s a good thing to social network so that you know the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Get tips and hints for submissions and queries. It’s not a good idea to post samples of your work. Create a fan base that will want to buy your book as soon as it’s published.

What books are hard to publish right now? Romantic Suspense – it’s harder to sell because the readers are very picky.

What are your thoughts on Light Romance or Humorous Romance? It’s very hard to tell someone that you’re funny and have them believe it. What you find funny may not appeal to a wide audience.

 What is the difference between BerkleyHeat and Sensation? Heat contains graphic sex and lots of it throughout the story. They tend to push the envelope in terms of bondage, multiple partners, etc.

Sensation has a small element of the same thing, but considered more “normal” sex. When submissions come in, editors will shuffle between the two lines depending on the story.

I’ve never written a synopsis, do you have any tips for how to write a good one? Find a good chapter contest and read through their score sheet. If you can answer every one of those questions well, then you’ll have a good synopsis.