Tag Archives: A History of Romance

Turning good into WOW

Your manuscript is complete, now what?
Send it off to the publisher and/or agent of your dreams, right?

Now that your manuscript is complete, and your story is told you have a lot of work ahead of you. First, you are going to want to polish your script. I wish I had known as much about this when I turned in Crushing Desire and Bound by Freedom, Unbound by Love as I do now. It would have made the final edit process easier and more fruitful.
You can’t finish a manuscript and say it is good enough. Unfortunately, it likely won’t fly in the publishing business. They will tell you, in no kind terms that the manuscript isn’t polished and they can’t accept it. I have discovered in my research about the craft that there are steps that you must take when you revise a manuscript and I will list them for you here.

Steps to a final edit…
I can’t say it enough. Edit your manuscript… Edit, edit, edit.

Step one…
Download a text to speech reader.
These things are amazingly helpful for first as well as final edits. When you are reading your manuscript, things might seem to be going smoothly. You know what you meant to write, and you are reading those words and getting wrapped up in the prose. Even your critique partner might miss a small mistake.

You meant to write:
They moved from the kitchen, holding hands as they went.
But what you typed was:
They moved form the kitchen, holding hands as they went.

This is a mistake you can easily miss. I know that I have missed it form time to time. JK. A reader -such as Natural Reader, which has a free download of their text to speech software- will catch these if you read along with it. I usually open the text in natural reader and my word processor as well. I can then follow along in the word processor document and make corrections while the reader reads the text.

Step two…
Remove repetitive words and beginnings.
It is important to remove repetitive words and repeated sentence beginnings in the text. Overused words can get annoying and you might not catch them on first reread. Look especially for words like had, was, and that. Make certain that all -ly words, such as lazily, have a purpose. If not, omit them. Pay attention to words you overuse, and try to pare them in step two. Check your manuscript for the words saw and noticed, and see that the are not telling instead of showing.

Jane moved into the room, and was surprised. She saw John sitting on the couch, his length lazily stretched along the cushions of it. She was sure that he knew that she had no dowry, so why was he here? Was she to believe that he thought that she would not know that it was he that had divested her of it?

This is a bit overdone, but you get the picture. It would be better written this way.

Jane stepped into the room, eyes widening in surprise. John reclined on the couch, stretching his length along its cushions. Her dowry was gone and he knew it, having divested her of it personally. So why should he be here?

Removing the repeated and overused words gives the passage a fresher sound. In fact, you could remove the term ‘in surprise’, and ‘stretching his length along its cushions’ in this passage as well. They really are implied. Surprise is suggested in the widening of her eyes. The word reclined insinuates that he is stretched out on the couch. As a romance novelist, however, I appreciate that some things are left in for the craft’s sake. It is up to you. Remove what you can of the repeated words without destroying your voice.

Step three…
Give the manuscript to one, or more, trusted reader(s)
A critique partner, or heck, even two or three of them can be invaluable. Give the script out to beta readers. People who will read your scripts and tell you (honestly!!!) what they think. They might give an opinion on the whole book or on something specific you ask for an opinion on, but they can be helpful in catching mistakes. Your readers can tell you if some question isn’t answered or if there is a major flaw. Some critique partners will go through chapter by chapter with you and give you a detailed critique.

I have critique partners who is critiquing my current WIP chapter by chapter. I also have two readers that read my WIP and tell me what they think on the whole.

Step four… Final read-through and polish.

Once you have all the feedback and have removed or reworded what must be fixed, it is time for the final polish. This is the spit polish, so to speak. You really want to do your best for this part of the final edit. I often use Natural Reader for this part as well. I want to hear how the final product is sounding. I keep listening until I can get all the way through without revision. Then my manuscript is ready.

Step five…
There is no step five… Yay… If you follow the previous steps, and polish your heart out, you will finally be ready to seek your agent or publisher. You will also have a far better chance that the search will be successful.

April Dawn
-Author of Crushing Desire and Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.


Clean House or Write- The Sophie’s Choice of the Writer with an Infant

I’ve been noticing that my time is at a premium lately. I have two children, a toddler and a newborn (well, three if you count the nearly six foot one I call hubby 🙂 ). Well, as a writer, I love to write. It’s part of my soul. When I don’t write, I feel grumpy and incomplete. (I’m sure fellow writers will understand this.) Because I need to write, and I was forced–by my high risk ob–to take 6 mos off, I feel the need to write more acutely right now.

Stephen King in On Writing–a book I highly recommend–said that to be successful, you have to think of writing as a business. You should have your business hours and keep them. So it behooves me to find time to write. At least two or three hours if I want to keep my goals.
Now, some things I cannot ignore for writing. There’s meals, potty training, diaper changes, and the funner play and snuggle times. Then there is evening hubby time. Each of these I can’t or wouldn’t want to give up. Which leaves the few things I can give up, in moderation of course.

Where does that leave time to write? Well, there’s sleep time. I’ve carved out two hours at night when I write instead of sleep, but I can’t miss more than that and still function. That leaves another hour I need to find at least. During nap time, I could nap, do housework, or write. Therein lies my own personal Sophie’s Choice. I don’t usually need a nap, so that is easy to give up, but oh housework in the quiet time without someone making a mess as fast as I can clean it? That’s not so easy to give up. Yesterday I chose writing. Today cleaning. I guess my Sophie’s Choice will be a daily struggle. What do you do to find time to write? What do you give up? What is your Sophie’s Choice?

What I learned in 2010

I thought that I would talk a little about what I learned this year like I did in my post last year.

What I learned while researching-

-Your hero/heroine should meet within the first 3 chapters if you have a regular novel, sooner if it is short. (This is one that I think you can play with depending on your story.)

-You have to make your hero and heroine lovable, but you should also think about the smaller characters. (This is something I always try to do, but I thought it bore mentioning.)

-You can’t have a character under 18 be sexually active, even if it is a realistic thing for the time you are writing in.

-Reading about writing can give you ideas, so even if you know everything about a subject, you should still check it out. It can help.

-There are a number of websites to help you find the things you need. If you need to research how much money a stable boy made in the 18th century, or what an officer would do when responding to a shooting, you can find it on the internet. (Ava Delany is blogging on this very subject on Friday, and as she always reminds us, Just be sure to check the credibility of the information and the website). History teachers, librarians, even cops are all willing to take time to help you if you tell them you are writing a book.

What I learned personally in 2010-

-It always hurts to get rejected by that agent you really thought you would gel with or would make your work shine. No matter how prepared you are, or how many others you query, that one always hurts.

-You have to get out there, no matter how many acceptance/rejection letters you receive. And each one will be just as nerve-wracking as the last.

-You have to take chances in your writing. You never know what people will want next.

-Don’t be afraid to write what you feel. It may not be as dark or scary as you think. Besides, dark and scary can make for great tension. 😉

Hope these help those of you who are thinking of writing, and perhaps even those of you who have written often.

April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.

Another year gone by

Last year I posted a what I learned on 09 and what I hoped to achieve in 2010 list. Sort of a new years resolution list. I was derailed mid-year by an unexpected high risk pregnancy, but now we have a very welcome addition to the family, so it was all worth it.

Let’s see how I did anyhow.

In 2010, I hope to learn what it is like to

  • -Have a great review (or many of them.)
  • I’m happy to say that I achieved this one. I’m glad so many of you loved my novels.

  • -Get a great agent.
  • Not yet, but I’m hopeful for a few manuscripts I have for next year.

  • -See my novels in Barnes and Nobel.
  • Ditto

  • -See someone reading my novels on the street.
  • Wouldn’t that be fun!

  • -Hit 1000+ followers on Twitter.
  • 586, not too bad…

  • -Have another reader send me an email telling my how much they enjoyed one of my novels.
  • I’m happy to say I have received a number of these as well. Thanks for the kind words.

    What’s on the agenda for 2011?

    -Submit and publish more novels

    -Enter a contest or two (scary! lol)

    -Get a great agent

    -Hit that illusive 1000 followers on twitter

    -See someone reading my book

    -Submit to the other genres I’m dying to try

    -Get a print contract to widen the readers I reach with my work

    We shall see how I do next year with this list, but for this year I have to say 1/3 of the list isn’t bad for resolutions achieved.

    Stay tuned for what I learned in 2010.

    April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
    Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.

    Ebook Readers – Nook, Sony, or Kindle, oh my!

    For Christmas, I decided to research ebook readers. While there are many choices, all within about $50 of each other for base models, I decided chose to focus on the top three 3G readers – the kindle 3, nook, and sony daily reader.

    So many sites review these readers, but after much research I found some little known information between seeing the readers in store. Though I will share some of the regular info, I will focus on the little known facts.

      There are three main features of each reader that I love, unfortunately they seem to be unique to their reader.

    The Sony Daily reader offers a handwriting feature. Using a stylus (or a finger) you can draw pictures, take notes, anything you want. That’s a great option for a woman with two kids and one husband that is quite similar to a kid when it comes to drawing cartoons.

    The Nook has the lend me feature. You can lend any book you buy (once for a two week period). You can also get loans from a friend with a nook. Reader applications on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry or certain other androids can also allow this lending feature with the proper app.

    Kindle has text-to-speech. I love that, especially as a mom. When you just can’t put that book down, and you need to make lunch or change a diaper, you only need a pair of headphones and viola!

      Other than these features, there are a number of great things about these ebook readers.

    The Sony features six font sizes, which could come in handy. The media expansion slot is a great plus. The Daily Edition also displays Word and PDF files, shows most image files, and plays MP3 and AAC audio. Unlike most other readers, the protective case is included.

    The Nook has “in store” features that include the ability to browse complete eBooks (though there is a one hour limit within any given 24-hour period) and promotions for Nook users. MP3 audio files and images can be loaded onto the reader, but can’t be done wirelessly. Each of these readers has 3G and wifi, but the Nook actually lets you browse the net. It also has android apps which might make the Nook future bright.

    Kindle is said to be the fastest and easiest to use, not that I noticed that much of a difference in store. You can listen to music on this one as well. Social networking and some web browsing is allowed with the internet connection, as are blog updates, so you could keep up with blogs like A History of Romance. *wink*Your books are synced with other devices so you can keep your page even when you get home or go out sans kindle.

      Other small considerations.

    There’s no charge/contract for the wifi or 3G service.

    Both the Nooks and Sony Readers let you read ePub files (library and free materials are often ePub).

    Kindle 3 does not offer a touch screen, however Sony Touch Edition and the Daily Edition, the nook (only at the base of the screen) and the nook color do have touch screens

      Read more from some of the sites I visited:

    Top ten

    consumer research

    This one has videos for each reader.

    Anything you want to add to help others make a choice? Leave a comment.

    April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
    Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.

    Catching up

    I know I’ve been away much too long. I won’t be out of the loop from now on, but as they say, ‘life happens.’ I’ll do my best to give you a brief snapshot of where I’ve been during my time away from the blog. I’m only really starting to recover from all the excitement. Great thing is, there’s much more ahead.
    Last month passed in a blurr. I was getting ready for my first-ever RWA National conference, (which was absolutely amazing). I caught up with members from The Greater Detroit chapter – my local chapter. I met some wonderful people, my fellow GIAMers, some fellow conference newbees, and Harlequin Romance Senior Editor, Kimberly Young in my hotel elevator. Ms. Young wasn’t wearing her nametag, but I recognized her voice from the podcasts on the Eharlequin website. By the way, those podcasts are chalked full of great stuff! If you’re a writer, and targeting Harlequin, definitely check them out.
    While at conference, I spent time with chaptermate Renee Alexis and my roommate and pal, Jodi Redford I wish I had photos of the three of us at Animal Kingdom. If you haven’t yet been to Disney, IMO, you need to experience its allure and fantasy-like ambience firsthand. It really is a magical place. You don’t have to be a kid to have a good time. I’m sorry though, that I wasn’t able to check out the Magical Kingdom and meet some of Disney’s finest.
    As for the conference,
    RWA did a fabulous job coordinating all the workshops. The presenters of the many workshops I attended during the course of the conference provided me with a plethora of new material to add to my creative and business arsenals. I’ll mention two here, because it’s over two weeks later, and I still remember them. *g* Margie Lawson and the Carina Press spotlight with Angela James who did an excellent job giving the audience a clear picture of Carina and its mission. As a side note: I’ve just finished up Angela’s editing course with Savvy Authors If you haven’t yet taken it, you need to hurry up and get your spot for her next available class! She presents her lessons with no fuss, no frills added but with plenty examples to get her point across. And I loved that! Go ahead. I’ll wait. *g* Back to conference recap.
    The Wednesday night literacy book signing, alone, was very interesting. I sat with Jodi Redford who was signing. To our left was Deanna Raybourn who is so down-to-earth and so nice to chat with. I had fun making small talk with her when she wasn’t busy with her readers.
    Keynote speaker, Nora Roberts and Awards Lunch-in speaker, Jayne Ann Krentz are wonderful presenters who impressed me with their incredible amount of knowledge and sound advice, while making me laugh along the way.
    The Golden Heart and Rita ceremony left me on the edge of my seat. I can’t imagine how anxious the nominees must’ve been. It was an emotional evening at times for me. I found myself tearing up when one of the winners, (any winner) would become emotional. I especially loved when Julia Quinn was inducted to the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame after winning her third Rita in the category of best Regency Historical Romance with What Happens In London. And my fellow blogger, G. Jillian Stone not only won a Golden Heart, she also snagged an agent. 🙂 Go Jillian!
    Since I’ joined RWA in 2006, I learned quickly that the Rita and GH ceremony along with the literacy book signing are infamous with members. Each year, up until now, I’d read others accounts of the conference and events there, and I’d wonder what it would be like to attend and experience them for myself. They were both pretty awesome! After attending this conference, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for the romance genre, and writing in general. I’ve sharpened my own focus, expanding my dreams while narrowing my goals to the more practical few that I can control.
    After returning home from Orlando, , I dove right into my family reunion, the MacInnis family reunion. My relatives from all over Canada flew in for the four-day event. I met second and third cousins, and wives/husbands/children of those cousins it made my head spin. But I had a lot of fun doing it. I heard the Harlequin party was a blast, but trust me, no one can party like my family. *g*
    Next up for me, in September, is the year-long mentorship class with Lori Wilde I’m extatic for this course to start. This course looks like it’ll be a blast.
    Well, there’s my not-to-concise recap. I hope those of you who attended conference had a fun time just as I did.

    You’ve got a brand profile and tagline. Now what?

    One of the fastest and least expensive ways to launch your brand is through social networking. And what might be the best way to do that? Website? Blog? Facebook? Twitter? Can a writer do all that promotion and still have time to write? Time management is a huge concern and rightly so. Every writer has mixed feelings about how much time marketing and promotion takes away from their writing.

    Might I suggest you start with baby steps? And only commit to what you can reasonably manage and feel comfortable doing.

    Twitter is like a teeny-tiny blog. You get 140 characters (not words) to message your Twitter followers. Great way to announce news and drive traffic to a guest blog or website contest. I was recently told about a writer who only Twitters. That’s it. She finds it easy to bang out a few brief messages every day and stay on schedule. She is contracted to write three books by year’s end. Who wouldn’t choose Twitter?

    Published or unpublished, you must consider your website launch a priority. An author website communicates to everyone in the publishing world that you are serious about the business of author/book promotion. If this is your first website, and you are not confident about creating one on your own, there are web development firms that specialize in web design and implementation for small businesses. Many of these companies have hundreds of attractive templates to choose/customize from. And do call in all your favors! Like, do not be afraid to ask for help from a tech-savvy friend or graphic designer relative.

    Once your author website is up and running smoothly, you can add a blog. A weekly blog is less of a commitment, but a daily journal/blog is brief and can also be stress free. And if you find you have nothing to blog about, you can always plug in a vacation picture, video of your cat, or a new recipe! Don’t want to blog alone? A blog site concept created with a crit partner or critique group might be exactly right for you. Plus, whatever you blog can be linked to your website.

    If the idea of a website or blog commitment is just too daunting, why not ease into your author brand promotion with a Facebook page? It’s a terrific way to network with other writers and romance readers. You can add fan pages and blog links later on. You can also use the tabs in Facebook to post reviews, add book cover art or trailers, and make announcements about signings and workshops.

    Website? Blog? Facebook? Twitter? I would pick one or two and then add more, only if you feel like you can handle more. COMING NEXT WEEK: Advanced work in advertising promotion and the importance of testing.

    G. Jillian Stone

    There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

    Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

    I’ve got all these words in my head that are just screaming to get out. Some are descriptive, emotional, sensual, horrifying, loving. I know you understand what I mean. For us, my dear writer, they are the heart and soul of our work.

    There are the types of words we scrutinize: adjectives and adverbs. We search them out and agonize over having too many or too few. We edit, re-write and edit some more. We don’t stop there. We hunt out clichés and overused phrases ripping them out of the pages. And all the while we struggle for originality and that magic that hooks the reader and draws them into our stories. We work until our manuscripts shine with a high polish.

    The readers are the witness, the hero or heroine, or whomever they prefer to identify with. It’s the juxtaposition of our words that create the pacing, paints the pictures, strikes the chord, arouses emotions and, for us romance writers, brings the story to a happy ending.

    Some words we are eager to hear: the call, published, multi-published, reprint, best seller, finalist, award winning. But I’m getting ahead of myself. More often the words are strung a bit differently: I think the concept of your novel has a lot of potential …, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your manuscript …, Thank you very much for your manuscript which I have read with interest …, I think you have a wonderful voice … The ellipse is followed by the same word but. Different words but all with the same meaning, rejected, although I really prefer passed. It is just so much more humane.

    I have worked hard on my manuscript. I am well passed my first draft. I have self reviewed and edited, my critique partner has reviewed and commented, at chapter meetings I have brought my five to ten pages for discussion. The version number on my document is in double digits. I know I have the words just right. I just need an editor/agent to love them as much as I do.

    Sure I can. I can love them anyway you want them!

    Special thanks to David Coverly for permission to reprint his cartoon.

    Dave Coverly admits there is no overriding theme, no tidy little philosophy that precisely describes what Speed Bump, his syndicated comic, is about. “Basically,” he says, “if life were a movie, these would be the outtakes.”

    These “outtakes” now appear in over 400 newspapers and websites, including the Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune, Indianapolis Star, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cincinnati Enquirer, New Orleans Times-Picayune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Vancouver Sun, Baltimore Sun, and Arizona Republic as well as the published “Speed Bump” books.

    In addition to his syndicated work, Coverly’s cartoons have been published in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are now regularly featured in Parade Magazine, the most widely read magazine in the world with a circulation of 73 million.

    Coverly works out of an attic studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is married to Chris, and they have two daughters, Alayna and Simone.


    Ruth Seitelman

    Gaze into the crystal ball and glimpse the future of e-Publishing

    In a 1995 article for Newsweek, Clifford Stoll, an astronomer and author, said “The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”

    Mr. Stoll was not uninformed about the internet. Quite the contrary, he had been working on the internet for years and was one of the first ‘hack hunters.’ But the internet of 1995 was in its infancy and like a newborn it would take time to mature – make order out of the chaos. He went on to say no body would shop on the internet, it would never catch on, it was only a fade. Mr. Stoll contended the internet missed an essential ingredient, the human touch. There were other things he felt would be big stumbling blocks, dealing with money being a big one.

    The issue with Mr. Stoll’s position in 1995 was one of insight. He had none.

    This past February, Mr. Stoll’s article was unearthed and was the topic of discussion on several blogs including Farhad Manjoo ( Slate Technologies) and Nathan Bransford.

    Manjoo presented four principles for more successful predictions about our digital future:

    1. Good predictions are based on current trends
    2. Don’t underestimate people’s capacity for change
    3. New stuff sometimes comes out of the blue
    4. These days it’s best to err on the side of (technological) optimism

    It goes past people’s capacity for change and to the heart of the matter. Stasis is not the norm.  So to Mr. Manjoo’s principles I have an addition. 5. Change is inevitable

    In Nathan Bransford’s blog, originally posted in the Huffington Post, he looked at the ebook controversy and saw the ‘new skeptics,’ the Mr. Stoll’s of today.  He doesn’t speak about the enabling of the technology but rather the inevitability of it. He has his own predictions.

    1. The ebook reading experience will only improve as ebook technology improves. As technology improves, new enhancements will be available, color photos and art, embedded interactive features and creative designs even in mass market books.
    2. eReaders and eBooks will get cheaper as technology improves and production cost go down.
    3. Finding the books you want to read will get easier, reading through the jumble of self published books to find the good books.  Many people have opined about the quality of the work being self published. Anybody can upload their novel to Amazon or other resources such as independent e-libraries, like Lebrary. New literary sites like Goodreads and Shelfari are tools readers can use to find well written, critically acclaimed, prize winning books.
    4. People are ignoring the digital trend.  The economics of digital media is compelling. Digitization is cheaper, faster, and provides worldwide distribution. Other industries have embraced the trend (they too went kicking and screaming but that didn’t stop the shift): music, newspapers, and movies. Books are next.
    5. Habits change. As people are presented with better options they quickly adapt.

    Are we at the same point in publishing as Mr. Stoll was in 1995 with the internet? Will we be looking back at 2010 and see we lacked insight? Or will we look at Mr., Manjoo’s principles of predictions and reflect on those of Nathan Bransford before we put our stake in the ground?

    I am more than just a consumer deciding on what device to buy or application to put on my iPad, iPhone or Blackberry. I am on the other side of this tidal wave, a writer. How do writers embrace the digital age when the skeptics, agents and published authors, advise against digital publishing? Is the argument that good writers will be tainted by the poor quality long associated with digital self-publishing real or imagined? Will the influx of poorly written books overwhelm the industry make it harder for good writers to be identified? Will good writers become discouraged and stop writing? What do the publishing professionals really think?

    Jesse Glass, co-publisher of Ahadada Books, a self publishing press was quoted by Liz Worth on the Broken Pencil blog:

    From the beginning of the history of publishing there have been bad writers and bad books. Though the new publishing technologies might help bad books to proliferate, intelligent readers have a sense of quality, of what draws them in, of what delights and instructs, and they will make an almost instinctive decision regarding what they will read and what they won’t. … Good work – and interesting work, inevitably – given time – wins out.

    Neil Nyren, the Senior Vice-President, Publisher, and Editor in Chief of Penguin Putnam was recently interviewed by JT Ellison on the Murderati Blog.  He said eReaders will not kill physical books. He believes the more formats that are available, the more accessible we make books, the more people will buy.

    He went on to say that the new technology is subtly changing the way editors do their work. The publishing industry is embracing the new technology to improve their own efficiencies and make their editors and sales people more effective. Some editors use eReaders to read submissions.

    It doesn’t really take a crystal ball to see the future of e-publishing. The signs are all around us.

    1. Change is inevitable
    2. If good predictions are based on current trends, the digital press is the way of the future
    3. eBook technology will improve and provide wonderful enhancements not available today
    4. eReader technology will improve and become more affordable and grow the reading market
    5. Well written and edited books will not disappear. Good books will always be in demand.
    6. New literary sites will emerge and provide the reading public with a means of wading through the jumble and help them find well written, critically acclaimed, prize winning books. The reading public will learn which imprints to associate with good, well written and edited books.

    I think there will always be a need for printed books. I have a Sony Reader as well as Kindle on my Blackberry. I buy on line, I borrow from the library online, and I still buy books.

    Ruth Seitelman

    Author Taglines. Yes? No?

    You’ve selected the key words culled your brand profile and created an author brand tagline. Yes? No? Well if you haven’t yet or you’re stuck, read on. Help and inspiration is on the way.

    An author tag line is almost always a recommended part of branding. It is your brand positioning taken to a high concept, creative level. You want the line to be memorable, yet flexible enough to allow you to grow as a writer––but not so all encompassing that the line ends up trying to say too much. I see examples of author taglines that are working too hard all over cyberspace.

    How can you tell if your tagline is trying too hard? Count the commas. Too many commas in a tagline usually means: 1. Author can’t self edit. 2. Writes in several subgenres. 3. Describes the tone and style of the writer, usually without much tone or style.

    A quick piece of advice. Avoid puns. Always. Unless a pun is really, really great, please try to resist. I know this is tough for you clever ones, but you must trust me on this.

    How about a few examples of taglines?

    A little bit of laughter, a pinch of spice, and a sprinkling of magic dust.

    Critique: Generally, this does not sound adult. The tone is younger than YA. Disney-ish. Avoid being too cute, or too friendly or folksy, unless, of course, that is what you write.

    How about this tag?  Edgy, elegant, erotic romance.

    Critique: The alliteration takes this no more than a half-step away from what I call a blueprint tagline. The author has basically taken words and phrases from her brand profile and strung them together. Note the commas.

    “Science Fiction, secret agents, and bad boys gone good.”

    Don’t use quote marks. It’s cheesy. And those commas are back again. Does this author write cross-genre or does she write in three different genres? Bad boys gone good, begins to get me interested. A playful line, but it needs something more. An erotic author who writes troubled, darker heroes might edge that up a notch. Now, bad boys gone good, becomes:

    Bad boys can be very, very good. In bed. Why not bring the author’s voice into the line? Let me show how very good bad boys can be. Keep playing with ideas and tossing around lines.  See how outrageous you can be––take it way out there and then pull back.

    Which leads me to the two sentence tagline. A descriptive sentence, then a second shorter sentence to punctuate the tone or concept of the first line.

    And now for an excellent example.

    Erotic Romance writer Delilah Devlin’s tagline seems to be the one used and quoted extensively in blog’s all over the internet. Here it is.

    Get in bed with Delilah. Everyone else has.

    Critique: Note the use of two sentences. One to set up a provocative premise. The second to drive home a clever bit of humor. Implied in the second line is the idea that many readers have read and enjoyed her novels. And no commas!

    Now get back to work and create the next great tagline. No pressure! And please remember that you are allowed to refine your tagline as your writing matures or changes. It’s not the end of the world to freshen up or evolve a brand tagline.

    COMING NEXT WEEK: You’ve got your brand strategy and your tagline. Now what do you do with them? Website and social networking are the foundation of your brand. A quick pass through those in the weeks ahead and then we’re on to advanced work in advertising and promotion for pubbed and unpubbed authors.

    G. Jillian Stone

    There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

    Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

    ONE MAN’S THOUGHTS: The Story With In A Story

    ‘It all started when the phone rang that afternoon.’ Kyle stared into his glass of bourbon as if it were a crystal ball replaying the past. ‘Most everyone in the office, including the secretary, was at lunch so I answered. The voice on the other end, a woman’s voice, sounded desperate for help. She wanted to speak with Mr. Strauss, the firm’s best corporate lawyer, but he was downtown with the other partners enjoying an expensive meal at a haughty restaurant.’

    ‘Is that what you told her?’ The bartender scratched his gelatinous chin.

    ‘It should’ve been,’ Kyle said. ‘Though the situation was obviously over my pay grade, I couldn’t just send her voicemail. That voice was so sultry; I was compelled to talk to her. I had to know more.’ Kyle tipped the glass back and downed his drink. ‘Biggest mistake of my life.’

    The bartender poured another without prompting.

    ‘If you don’t mind my asking, what the hell happened?’ He asked Kyle with a hushed tone.

    ‘That’s what I keep asking myself,’ Kyle said.

    A simple but effective technique is the story within a story approach. In the example above we learn about the events of a story as Kyle speaks of them while at the same time a second story is told of the bartender and his reaction to the first story. This gives the reader more information than would be available if the scene only described the events at the office. Kyle’s melancholy attitude and the bartender’s interest show the reader the emotional impact that those events will have on Kyle thus building tension.

    Another form of the story within the story concept is the confessional. This is a pause in the main plot where a scene about a character’s past is included. It can be either narrative or dialogue, but the purpose is to take a look at an important point in the character’s past and learn something of the character that explains why they are the way they are or what motivates them. It is fun to drop a familiar character in a whole new set of circumstances and take a break from the current story. It allows the reader to see more aspects of them and keeps the story fresh.

    Story with in a story is a simple idea and is used a lot in a myriad of forms. It will add a dimension to your writing that will give your plots and characters depth they didn’t have before.

    Until next time- happy writing.

    Michael Matthews Bingamon

    Let Jodi Redford Light Your Fire With Her New Release

    New Release by Jodi Redford
    Well, just as I promised last week, here’s this week’s new release info. 🙂
    Out from Samhain Tuesday, June 29, is a new hot and kickass release from Jodi Redford And to celebrate her new release, Jodi is offering to one lucky person who leaves a comment, a $5 gift card to My Bookstore And More
    Be sure to check out Jodi’s contest page. To celebrate her new release, she’s giving away an Advanced Reading copy of Light My Fire! There’s also some other cool prizes, but you’ll need to check out her contest page for the rules. But hurry, because the contest ends tomorrow.
    Be sure when you leave your comments here to include your email address so Jodi or I can contact you. Best of luck, everyone! We’ll draw the winner on Sunday!

    Light My Fire by Jodi Redford (Out this coming Tuesday from Samhain.)
    Double the firepower, triple the heat.
    Aiden Fortune’s orders are clear: Find the woman, claim her as a sexual
    sacrifice-and share her with his horndog twin brother. Distasteful as it is,
    the Drakoni council insists the ancient custom be honored. Or Aiden will be
    One glance at Dana Cooper, and Aiden is thrown into the dragon version of a
    tailspin. Claim her? Hell, yes, he’ll claim her. Problem is, she has no idea
    her father signed away her destiny at birth.
    Dana has dated enough whack-a-doodles to fill an insane asylum. Two gorgeous
    men claiming to be dragons? Par for the course. Until they give her a
    tantalizing glimpse of their inner beasts, which makes her think she’s the
    one headed for a padded cell-for actually considering their offer of the
    hottest sex of her life, for life.
    Her resistance melts away under the onslaught of two men who pack enough
    heat to set off smoke alarms in a six-block radius. Especially when she
    realizes she’s falling for Aiden. But with a town full of dragon hunters and
    an enemy lurking in the shadows, surviving a week of Aiden and Jace’s
    double-teaming will be the least of her problems.
    Warning: Contains two smokin’ hot dragons and their not-so-unwilling
    sacrifice. A few wardrobe malfunctions and inappropriate use of
    paintbrushes. You might want to have your local fire department on speed

    Breakthrough Branding for Romance Authors. Part Deux. The Brand Signature.

    This week, I will be posting examples of the kinds of brand signatures you should be able to formulate by completing the brand profile. So, if you are stumped or have run into a block, this should help. I am going to spend a lot of time with this profile before we move on to other areas of branding and promotion, because the framework is the foundation for everything that comes after–like developing a creative strategy. Strategy is the next phase of your brand work, as well as planning promotion and advertising; what kinds of media to use, print/cyber, whether to twitter or not, holding contests/giveaways, etc.

    Branding is emotional, just like romance novels. A reader’s decision to purchase a new release from a branded author is not based on a value proposition or couponing. Whether a reader purchases a favorite author for $6.99 through Amazon or pays $7.99 at Barnes & Noble is irrelevant. Once your brand is established, readers will purchase again because they enjoyed your other novels and you deliver a great read. How did Donald Maass put it, again? “Delight your readers with your own brand of story, then continue to delight them in a similar way (only better) on a regular basis.”

    EXAMPLES OF BRAND PROFILE DIRECTIONS: Pull out four or five key words or phrases from your profile, then, create a run-on sentence––string them all together. I have put together some examples below.

    Chick Lit Profile: These female survival guides promise laughter, steamy love scenes, sexy infuriating men and sassy smart heroines.

    Take away: WOW! This author makes me laugh. She is fresh and vibrant. I love her sexy, infuriating men! I want to look her up on Amazon and purchase.

    Erotic Romance Profile: Buttoned-up business women loose their passions with powerful, difficult alpha males and reveal darker, hidden agendas.

    Take away: M-mm. Sounds like she sets up interesting tensions. Power chicks, dark sexy heroes and kink. I’m intrigued.

    So, what is your brand signature? Dark and erotic? Fresh and funny? Let’s do one more:

    Paranormal: Magically-powered heroines pair with ultra sexy/macho mortal heroes for hot sex/adventure.

    Take away: I’d love to know how the mortal men keep up, or keep it up? Haha! The brand sentence above seems like it is limited to a series. In that respect, if I was the author, I might want to broaden the signature. Also what is the tone? Is this light paranormal or dark? Could be either.

    The place to crystallize your brand is in the signature or tag line. I’ll use myself as an example. I write historical romantic suspense, as well as historical paranormal, on the hot end of the love scene spectrum. My brand signature is:

    There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

    What does this say to you? Well, I am trying for several things. Fields in time says historical, but also hints at paranormal. What about hot or erotic content? Burn with desire. I’d say so! Meet me there. Invites the reader into my world of fiction.

    Most everyone I know writes in more than one subgenre, so dig deep and look for the defining characteristics of your work, beyond category.

    Go back through your profile and consider your brand signature. If you would like feed back please e-mail me direct or leave a comment on this blog. My website and email address are listed below. Above all, don’t get discouraged. Even if you set the profile aside for a while, keep working on your brand. Eventually, you will hit upon an idea and things will click into place.

    Graphics (visuals) as well as copy play a huge role in branding, here is your HOMEWORK FOR NEXT WEEK:

    Sometimes concrete examples help with the finer points of branding, so I have created what I hope is a fun exercise. I want you to visit several author websites. They must be sites you have never visited before. And they must be authors who do not have established brands. Click on a few tabs, and gather impressions. TRY NOT TO READ ANYTHING. Now, quickly close up the window.

    Write down your impressions of each author. What is the brand personality of the website? Based on your glance at the graphics, what subgenre do they write? Are you intrigued? Now go back to the sites for a second visit, read a few pages. How well did the writers/authors do? Does their site reflect a strong brand identity? Did you guess their subgenre correctly?

    I have included a few websites at random. Some are unpublished authors, others are pubbed. They are all in the process of building their brand. How well do we think they are doing? Next week: How to Create a Brand Strategy.








    G. Jillian Stone

    There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

    Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

    ONE MAN’S THOUGHTS: Final Touches

    I think back to the beginning of my latest manuscript that I start over three months ago when there was only a title and one blank page. Though I knew where to go with the story there was no predicting quite how it would turn out or what it would take to get there. Now twenty six thousand words and a hundred and ten pages later I have my newest manuscript almost ready to go. If you are new to writing I would like to share a few things with you about this stage of the process.

    Though the story is done and the editing complete there is still a remarkable amount to do. My first bit of advice is to go over again. Trust me, there will be more corrections to make than might think. After that the details of the next few steps depend on the publisher you are submitting to. If you don’t know whom you are going to submit to then this is the time you want to do an Internet search for an appropriate publisher and look up their guidelines.

    There are several things a publisher is likely to want in addition to the manuscript.

    The first is a summary and my least favorite thing to do. A summary is a present tense outline of the manuscript. It should name all the main characters, cover all the major plot points and include the end. If you find that you are submitting a story to several publishers then you are likely to need a different summary for each because they all have different length requirements. I have written summaries anywhere from one page to ten pages for the same story.

    Another common requirement is the blurb. This is like the teaser on the back cover to induce the reader to purchase the book. It is two or three paragraphs in length that should grab the readers attention and leave them wondering what happens next. Blurbs are also written present tense and are fun to do. Read the backs of a couple dozen of books and find which ones get your attention. What did those authors say and how did they say it? Blurb writing isn’t the same as novel writing, but once you get a knack for it, it’s a blast.

    The excerpt, in theory, should be the simplest requirement. A publisher wants the writer to provide a bit of the manuscript for the reader to sample. Obviously this should involve an intriguing section, but I find choosing an excerpt difficult. What I keep in mind is that it should always include the main character, be mostly dialogue, and like a blurb end with the reader wondering what will happen next. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not so much.

    The real pain in the arse about submitting comes from various publishers’ quirky requirements. Most of the requirements make sense such as length, font size and file types. However a few publishers want specific margins, no use of italics, no spacing other than chapter breaks (such as no * * * between sections), no use of the tab for indentations, and some want headers and footers with certain information. At this point it is more about jumping through hoops than the writing and the author spends significant time creating a specific versions of the manuscript for various publishers. It would make more sense to have the publisher decide if they liked the material and then make the changes for the accepted manuscripts, but I imagine the requirements are used to deter submissions.

    In many cases a query letter, or cover letter, is sent as well. A basic three-paragraph format is used and it should be addressed to someone specific whenever possible. The first paragraph contains the basic facts about the manuscript including length, genre, title, and intended audience. The second paragraph is a very brief blurb about the story. The final paragraph is about the author. It should list relevant background, previous published material and experience. It is important to keep a query letter one page in length.

    It is vital that an author is always polite when dealing with publishers. There is no call for being rude and it won’t change their minds in the case of rejection. Also, don’t bother being cutesy either. They are busy people and don’t have time for that sort thing. With all your communications be sure to get to the point, relay all the information required and thank them for their time.

    My experience has been that E publishers tend to be more about the work. They will require the manuscript, blurb and excerpt with few complications. Paper publishers on the other hand often have more stringent needs. It is almost ceremonial the process of submitting to a conventional publisher and they expect all the bells and whistles. Whatever the requirements, be sure to meet them no matter what type of publisher you submit to. The submission stage is highly competitive and you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. Conform to the requirements and let the work do the talking.

    So, good luck to all of us who send our books off to publishers as if they were our children attending their first day of school.

    Until next time— happy writing.

    Almost forgot, happy father’s day to all of us dads!

    Michael Matthews Bingamon

    Another new release by Jane Beckenham

    For the next two weeks, I’m very excited to share two new releases from two of my good friends and fellow authors. This week,
    Jane Beckenham
    has a new release out with
    Red Rose Publishing
    which I’ll share with you in a moment, along with an excerpt to whet your apitite. Next week, I’ll be sharing info on a new hot number by
    Jodi Redford
    On with this week’s new release!
    In Love With The Sheikh
    Desert Rose Anthology
    Jane Beckenham
    Mainstream Romance: Contemporary, Interracial/Multicultural
    ISBN: 978-1-60435-723-3
    Cover Artist: Missy Lyons
    Editor: Zena Gainer
    Word Count: 49,380
    Release Date: June 17, 2010

    Desperate to discover her past, Lilly Duprés outbids Sheikh Kalim Raschid for an antique brooch. Her triumph is short lived. She can’t honor that bid. Accepting an offer to solve her financial embarrassment, Lilly discovers Kalim has every material thing yet spurns what she most desires. Love. Family. To belong.
    After a lifetime spent watching his father hurt his mother, Kalim has vowed he would never imitate his father. But Lilly breaches his defenses leaving him vulnerable.
    Faced with something he never wanted, Kalim must choose his future, and Lilly must accept her past, until life and love can come full-circle.