Tag Archives: editing

Top 5 – Humor pt 1

Top 5 ways to add humor to your writing. I know I’m saying top 5, but I’m really lying. There are far more than 5 ways to add humor, and each on varies depending on your style. Not everyone likes the same humor when they read, and not everyone is great at the same humor when they write. These examples, and the next 5 I intend to post next week, are just a few options for adding humor and while they might work for some, they won’t work for everyone. Find your inspiration and have fun, because you can’t find things funny if you aren’t having fun.

1 Strange normalcy

Treat the very strange as completely normal. It’s the whole “straight man” concept. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a perfect example of this type of humor. I’ll give you an example you might hear from your eight year old.

Dan walked into a bar with a frozen turkey under one arm.

“Hello Dan.” John said, eying the chilly bird. “What’s with the turkey?”

“I got it for Mr Gobbles. He’s been lonely for days now, and the pet store was out.”

“You staying for a drink?”

“Nah. I’ve got introductions to make.”

John nodded. “Ah, lovebirds.”

2 Word choice

Crapola, hodgepodge, titmouse.  These words are funny. If you make amusing word choices, the scene will be that much funnier.

So, from now on: He’s not fat, he’s corpulent. It’s not a ridiculous story, it’s a cockamamie tale. You’re not shocked, you’re flabbergasted.

3 Be different

Switching up old cliches or metaphors can add humor. Change the beginning or the ending. Try mixing two together and see what can happen. Have fun with it. You never know when you might strike gold.

“He’s obviously a few sandwiches short of a speedboat.”  “A bird in the hand is worth an apple a day.” “An idle mind keeps the doctor away.” “The early worm catches the bird.”

4 Repeat yourself

If it’s funny, don’t let it go until it’s not funny anymore.  Scrubs, Friends, and several other long running comedy shows have a lot of running humor gags. If done well, running gags can really up the funny. You could choose to mention a strange normalcy again and again. You could continue mixing cliches or metaphors. Anything that’s funny.

Dan nods at John as he heads through the throng of writing twenty-year-old kids, all doing their own renditions of an old man with his back thrown out.

“So, how did Mr. Gobble like his new girlfriend?” John handed Dan a beer.

“You know what they say, a turkey under the arm is worth two in the bush.”

“Of course.” John said, lifting his own beer for a drink.

5 Look again

Don’t be afraid to go back and add humor. Those of us who aren’t a laugh a minute, and even those who are, could stand to up the funny in our funny scenes. Adding more later doesn’t mean you’re not funny. It’s just a great way to ensure that there’s something funny for everyone. Besides, it never hurts to add humor… Well, except when your stomach hurts, your eyes tear, and you nearly pee your pants. but that’s the best kind of humor.

Those are my Top 5 ways to add humor to your manuscript. Now, go forth and spread the funny.

Robin Delany

Heat, Humor, and Heart,

Whatever the Century.


Just Write It

By Kay Springsteen

Hooker with a heart of gold meets rich man who rescues her from the streets: A lighthearted look at the life of a prostitute who hits the big time and then turns around to rescue the man who rescued her. Pretty Woman is one of those movies I love to watch. I don’t care that it’s older, or that the premise is extremely far-fetched. It’s fiction. It doesn’t have to make sense. And the interactions of the characters is amazing, as is the job the actors themselves do of portraying this complex group of people. Pretty Woman is billed as a romantic comedy, but did you know it didn’t start out that way?

The screenplay for this movie was originally written as a highly emotional, somewhat dark trip through the world of prostitution, an examination of the differences in class. The dead body in the opening of the movie originally played a much more prominent role and there were no funny snails at dinner scenes, lazy days in the park or quarter of a million dollar necklaces for trips to the opera. The story was seedy and gritty and heavy.

But the producers saw more potential in the story than that. By turning it to a romantic comedy they played to what the audiences of 1990 wanted. Pure, fun escapism. But not so much of an escape they couldn’t dream of that romantic rescue happening to them.

Add in an already established hit song by Roy Orbison, and you have audience appeal.

But what does that have to do with people who are writing fiction today? Everything. The plot of Pretty Woman was only loosely reminiscent of the original. But the author, J.F. Lawton, worked with the studio and producers and agreed to the changes that shot that movie to one of the most successful romantic comedies ever.


Oh right, the lesson. Well, the lesson is simply to be flexible. Write what calls to your heart while you’re in the creative stages, but don’t write with a closed mind, and when you type that last word, don’t let it be written in stone. You never know who might come along with an idea of tweaking your story just enough to make it one of the highest grossing romantic comedies of its time. With a handful of tweaks, you might find yourself sitting on “the next big thing.”

All because an editor or a publisher or… a producer… says to you, “I really like your story but would you be willing to make a few changes…?”

So…would you? Or do you feel J.F. Lawton should have stuck to the original script?

I write highly emotional-charged stories. I don’t do romantic comedy nearly as well as I write drama. But if Hollywood called and asked me to change one into a romantic comedy, would I allow it? In a heartbeat. Time enough later to be a prima donna. First you gotta get to the top.

“You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you’re trying to get there. And if you’re someone like me, you can’t get there without bending the rules.” (Melanie Griffith as Tess  McGill, Working Girl)

Happy reading and writing!


Top 5 – Before Submitting

Top 5 things to check for before submitting to agents, editors, critique partners, and even your Mom. (Though she will love it either way.)

I always remember these with this simple acronym – RRSRT… Okay, so maybe that’s not so easy to remember. All right you can think of that sound people make when they… No, that doesn’t work… Oh, just read the list. *pout*

1 Reread

Be sure you have looked over your wrok. You don’t want too frustrate those you depend on most for your writing carrier with simple mistakes, and chance loosing them

2 Repetition

Delete repetitive words, because repeating words can feel very repetitive when reading the words that are repeated.

3 Show

Hannah sat on the couch,crossed her legs , and rested her laptop on her thighs. She typed in the first line of chapter 7, then grimaced. Clenching her teeth, she hovered a finger over the delete key. She’d broken rule number 3 on Robin Delany’s top 5. She hit the delete key, removing the offending sentence. “Jane felt angry and frustrated.”

4 Research

James Hainsworthy, third Earl of Jarwood, paused before jumping down from the carriage. He leaned against the cool wood of the door. He hadn’t spoken to Keesha in weeks. Several deep breaths later, he pulled his jacket lower over his pants. The door opened at the first squeak of his sneakers on the stairs, and he smiled at his lady love.

“Forsooth, milady, thou lookest beauteous this morn.”

“You look hot too, baby.”

(If you don’t know what’s wrong with this passage, you should be researching right now. Yes, you should research even if you don’t write historical romance. Don’t make me write another example, ’cause I will. I’ll get all example-y on your hinders.)

5 Think

Author A – I love how your heroine hates dolphins. It’s such a great quirk. Oh, and that little doll she keeps in her room is so interesting. What does it mean?

Author B – Mean? The things in the story should mean something?

Author A – Not necessarily, but I’m sure you are trying to tell the reader something, or hint at your heroine’s past, right?

Author B – *stare’s blankly*

Author A – *wincing* Give an interesting contrast to her personality?

Author B – What?

Author A – You do know about your story world, don’t you? Your character? Her life?

Author B – Why would I need to know about my story world? And who cares about the character’s life? Why would I need to know those things?

Author A – No reason, I guess. *eyebrows rise and Author A begins to whistle*

Those are my Top 5 things you should do before submitting. I hope you enjoyed them and maybe even found them a little helpful.

Robin Delany

Heat, Humor, and Heart,

Whatever the Century.

The Marks of an Editor

By Kay Springsteen

With the rise in the rates of e-published books by independent companies and self-published authors, calls are going out for editors. As a senior editor at Astraea Press, I’ve been looking at editors’ tests with the goal of assisting in decisions about whether or not to hire applicants. And it’s because I’m seeing the same mistakes over and over that I decided to share what good editors must know to be successful at helping an author produce the best polished manuscript.

Thorough and demonstrable understanding of the mechanics of writing. This includes grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Knowledge of the elements of story construction. This includes such things as point of view and how to recognize inappropriate shifts from one head to another in the scene (point of view breaks), recognition of telling where the author should be showing, the proper use of dialogue tags, and the ability to identify plots and subplots with an eye to ensuring these all move the story forward to some degree, that they are all wrapped up, and that no holes exist.

Communication skills. This would include the ability to communicate ideas and needs with senior editing staff and publisher as well as to accept direction or request clarification in the event such direction is not well understood. In addition, of utmost importance is the ability to clearly correspond with each individual author. The editor must explain why a specific change is needed, and should, in most cases, never make the change him/herself but instead explain to the author what is needed and ask the author to use his/her own words and author voice to make the correction. It’s okay, encouraged even, for an editor to make suggestions in order to show the author more clearly what is being sought. However, the editor must resist the urge to rewrite the story out from under the author. Just because you feel your own personal word choice or a plot/subplot direction is better does not make the author’s choices incorrect. Above all else, the story must remain the author’s story.

People skills. These days, little direct contact is made between editor and author. Most of the communication is done through email and through the notes in the margins. It is important that an editor explain why changes are requested in a manuscript, and in many cases illustrative suggestions should be offered—but not in such a way as the editor rewrites the book. Edits should be accomplished with the utmost respect regardless of what an editor thinks of the story or the author. And they should be made showing kindness and courtesy, not autocratically. Basically, it goes back to attracting more flies with honey than with vinegar. Unless you run across a colony of masochistic flies, honey is definitely the bait of choice. A little sugar goes a long way toward the working dynamic between two creative personalities. Thus, it is not enough to request editorial changes, even with an explanation. The editor needs to recognize an author’s bits of brilliance, and it’s important to show the author what he or she has done well along the way. That’s where compliments from the editor help. By providing positive feedback, the author is encouraged to continue doing what he/she has done right. Make all those red marks count!

With these tips in mind, I wish anyone who is of a mind to apply for an editing position the best of luck, and maybe one day soon I’ll be working with you. Anyone interested in applying to Astraea Press for an editing position, please submit your resume and qualifications with a letter of interest to Stephanie Taylor at stephanietaylor@astraeapress.com – good luck!

The Details Start the Engine

by Kay Springsteen

Imagine building a car and forgetting to install a crucial part of the engine. If it starts at all, it’s not likely to run well, and it may end up stopping rather abruptly. Those who assemble cars, no matter what stage of the car they work on, follow a blueprint—detailed plans that outline exactly what part goes in what position. Every part has a place and every place requires the part that fits.

Writing is much the same. A story is made up of various elements, to include characters, plot, setting… And it’s the details of each of these that are built upon to present the whole picture. A thought here, a bit of dialogue there, the way the wind pushes the curtain or a ticking clock fills a silence.

When my collaborator, Kim Bowman, and I wrote A Lot Like a Lady, we researched the historical details surrounding our chosen time period and our setting. We probably didn’t get it all right but we’re confident that some of it, at least, is as authentic as we could make it. But because of our research and desire to get it right, our writing actually suffered. Kim and I both tend to write in deep third person point of view and we love to show our characters’ emotions to the point where the reader feels them along with the character. We also like to pay attention to details of the setting – not heavy paragraphs loaded with description but a kind of filtering in of the details as the characters (remember in deep third pov) might experience them.

But in the writing of A Lot Like A Lady, it was as if all the research into the history meant something had to be displaced—the filing cabinet was too full and the detail folder slipped to the rear, or the detail tool bar slid to the side and we failed to notice it. So we wrote a good story between us. We knew what things were called, we found the procedures, the hierarchy of nobility, what servants did what…

And then we went to editing. We were thrilled to have one of the best historical fiction analysts out there as our content editor, J. Gunnar Grey. The attention to historical detail Gunnar gives when writing is carried over into the editing field. This was it. Picture Kim and I giving ourselves high fives. Our good story was about to be made better.

And then the sound of a whip cracking could be heard amid the partying.

“What room are they in? Is it light?”

“Does sunlight filter through the window? What does it hit?”

“Do sounds reach the characters from outside?”

“Are there any vases of flowers sitting around? Is the fragrance light and pleasant or overpowering?”  

Page after page of questions like this. Now imagine Kim and I looking at each other in confusion. Did we really write our story and forget all the settings?

The short, and somewhat embarrassing answer here is simply: Yup. We did. At least for the most part our first draft of A Lot Like A Lady had our characters telling their story in a vacuum.

Now, once we were made aware of this by our jewel of an editor, it became a simple matter to do what we both always do—that being to run back through the entire manuscript and filter in the details that show what the characters saw, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled. We added splashes of sunlight and gentle breezes, the scent of lilies, the splash of a brook.

To soften the blow of pointing out our mistake, our editor did, very nicely, tell us that it was obvious we had simply overlooked layering in these details during our first self-edit in our zeal to provide a more historically accurate picture.

Bottom line here? The details make all the difference. We added a few thousand words worth of details and our characters were no longer telling their story in a vacuum.


Find A Lot Like A Lady on Amazon, Astraea Press, and Barnes & Noble

Notes From the Editor

By Kay Springsteen

The publishing industry has been through so many changes – with many more still to come – it would be impossible for the old masters, the authors of the typeset era, to recognize some of the requirements for manuscript submission today. When you add in that each publisher has its own specific preferences regarding file format, font type and size, line spacing, and margins, you might see your manuscript go through many variations depending on the number of publishers you submit to.

For submitting, it is best to locate the guidelines for the publisher to whom you are sending your work and follow these to the letter. This is often the author’s first test. If you can’t be bothered to format your document the way their guidelines call for, why should they want to look at your work? Even if you are completely word processor ignorant – that is, you know how to turn on the computer, open the program and begin typing, and you do all that with a sequence of sticky-note instructions – you will still have to learn how to format your document for your chosen publishing target. And, should your story be accepted, you will have to learn to work in the editing phase using track changes and comments. So take a class in Word Processing, my recommendation would be for this class to be in MS Word, since it is the program most called for by publishers.

But there are other things you should be aware of…things that will make your editor particularly pleased (and a happy editor means a happy edit, which makes for a happy author). For instance, be aware of the tools on your word processor. And turn most of them off. I’m editing a manuscript right now which the author wrote with something called smart tags turned on. These are tags that label street names and what Word perceives might be street names and give the writer the option of looking up the street on a map and acquiring directions. There is absolutely no need for this in fiction and it is best left off since it has the potential for creating problems when the manuscript goes for final formatting. Likewise, unless the publisher states otherwise, turn off curly or smart quotes. And since most publishers use first line indent, turn this on, and set it for 0.5 inch from the left. Then ignore your tab key for the rest of the manuscript.

You also want to be careful about using features and fonts that can potentially slow down the reading flow. Emphasize too may words with italics or apologetic (aka “scare”) quotes, and the read will feel choppy and jarring. Put in too many parenthetical statements (with parentheses or with the em/en dash) and your story will appear to have attention deficit disorder. Too many ellipses and you have a slow thoughtful story that hints at long (insert yawn here) pauses. If you want to determine the smoothness of your manuscript, read sections with these formats aloud – even record yourself reading it – and you will get a sense of the pauses and emphases you’ve perhaps unknowingly written in.

These are just a few of the formatting and mechanical issues editors find themselves presented with on a daily basis. But if you work on even one of these things, your editor will require less chocolate to work on your book.

Find Kay on Facebook

Reading and Writing and Editing Goals

by Kay Springsteen

This is only the second day of the year and already I’ve fallen behind on my most important resolution for the New Year. Goal setting. I promised myself I would actually outline my personal goals for writing and editing and instead I kind of lazed yesterday away.

Well! This is kind of a good news/bad news situation. Since it’s Leap Year, I still have the entire 365 days ahead of me to figure out. So this can be my second New Year’s Day. Of course, that means Leap Day just becomes February 28 and the year rights itself by March 1. What a great solution to falling behind.

Oh, the bad news? Yeah…I still have to set my goals and get them down somewhere so I can periodically check my progress.

I have a day job – medical transcription. And aside from needing the very steady income, the work is at times very personally rewarding. So that’s among my “other career” goals.

But for fiction, I need to divide the goals into three categories.

EDITING: I edit for a couple of different publishing houses and plan to keep doing so. Why more than one? For one thing it spreads the work, but mostly because the editing is different types of fiction and each house has different heat levels. I plan to continue my editing at my current levels.

READING: You would think between editing the work of others and writing my own stories, I wouldn’t need to read for pleasure. But I find reading without the need to polish allows me to sit back and enjoy the ride, to get caught up in the story. Someone else’s story, not my own. I put pleasure reading right up there among the must-do in my fiction goal-setting. And I’d actually like to increase my reading. Problem is, I need to find a cool place to read where I won’t see my computer or I’ll feel the draw to edit or work on something of my own. I truly enjoy the work of others so reading is important. Maybe I’ll look into a place in my garden where I can kick back this summer.

WRITING: I write sweet stories under my real name. But maybe you don’t know that I have a secret alter ego under which I write erotic shorts. I enjoy writing the shorts rather than the full out erotic stories. I also enjoy writing the full length sweets. And I have several of these planned for my up-and-running series books this year. I think I’d like to try writing some middle-ground, a bit sweet, a bit sensual stories. I’m also diving into some historical romance this year. And I plan to write in the paranormal field, the latter of which will have a slightly more sensual feel as well. For the historical and paranormal books I have planned, I am collaborating with my writing and editing partner, Kim Bowman. Lots of exciting things planned, and getting started has been a hoot, since I am a die-hard plotter and Kim claims to be a pantser. So, in the words of another writer friend, we have become a hybrid of the two: plotantsters.

I’ll keep you posted on the joys and pitfalls of collaborative authoring as we go. Now, what about you? Got your goals mapped out yet?

A Window on the Holiday Rush

by Kay Springsteen

I used to wonder how writers did it…how they balanced their day jobs with their writing and with their families. Now I’ve come to realize they sometimes do not. Sometimes choices are presented, difficult ones, and decisions must be made. Do I finish this chapter or finish my Christmas shopping? Do I sign in to my job a few minutes late because I stopped at Wally World on the way in? Do I work on my editing or bake those cookies?

Some do balance it all, I know. At least according to their social media posts, they read a great book, decorated the tree, baked four dozen cookies, planned Christmas Eve supper and the Christmas Day meal, bought the last of their presents in September and the stocking stuffers on Black Friday. The stockings are hung by the chimney with the blazing fire warming the room as they put the last tinsel on their tree. No packages remain in need of wrapping, and they’re hidden in the perfect places, where the kiddies won’t find them but the writer won’t forget them until next July. The exact right measure of cedar garland graces the tastefully lit outside of the house, and a lovely wreath hangs on the door, welcoming visitors who knock. And now they’re sitting curled up on their sofa enjoying the fruits of their labor while they put the final edits on their latest book about to be released.

For those fortunate authors who have their lives perfectly balanced, I have one question: Are you some sort of Stepford creation?

~Happy everything!


The Best Writing Advice Ever

By Kay Springsteen

You have your story. You’ve had it critiqued. You’ve followed your publisher’s guidelines…well sort of. What exactly do they mean by first line indent, anyway? And even though they ask for 12 PT font in Times New Roman, your manuscript looks so much classier in 10 PT Book Antiqua. And you know it’ll get much more attention with a flourish at the top of each chapter. And maybe they asked for line spacing of double, but doesn’t 1.5 look much nicer? And of course, when they say nothing over 100,000 words, no one will REALLY say anything if your manuscript is submitted with 102,000 words, right?

Again, with my editor cap in place, would you care to know what would really make your publisher’s day?

Following the submission guidelines.

If their submission guidelines are present on their website, they’re there for a reason. If they want double spacing, give them double spacing. If they want 12 PT Times New Roman or Courier, send it in one of these fonts. As far as content, know the publishing house where you are submitting. If it’s a sweet house, they aren’t looking for threesomes. And I haven’t found a press yet that wants submissions that include graphic depictions of rape or even a hint of pedophilia. If the guidelines say “no cursing,” don’t try to sneak “what the hell” in there.

But very honestly, the best advice I can give is about something that occurs before you type the first words of your story. With your word processing program. Learn it inside out. Read a book on it. Take a class in it. Find out how to do the most basic of functions, from setting line spacing to learning what keys do what.

I can’t tell you how many people center something on a page by using the tab key. Or how many use the space bar and space in five times for the line indent. And at the end of a chapter, instead of a hard page break, they simply hit the enter key until they’re at the top of the page. It all may look pretty good when it’s submitted. But with the first edits, all of these formats are useless. A hard page break will remain in place and the chapter headings will always be at the top of the page no matter how much material you add or remove during edits.

Classes in software are generally very inexpensive, and often tutorials are all you might need and many of those are offered by the software companies free of charge with purchase. Using your software the appropriate way will cut down on your editing time because you won’t have to stop to reformat when you are polishing your manuscript prior to submission. But mostly, your publisher will offer you sincere thanks for turning in a manuscript that’s easy to work with.

Happy writing!

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.

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.

    I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours



    It’s a tough thing to allow someone to read your manuscript, but an even tougher thing to allow someone to read your manuscript who’s job it is to look for mistakes, weaknesses.

    After months, even years of working on your baby—yes, to some their MS becomes just as precious as a child—it can be devastating to hear anything less than glowing praise. It would be lovely to receive a critique where the critter had nothing but nice comments to say. “This is the best story I’ve ever read. I couldn’t find a thing I’d change. It’s perfect!”

    As writers we know that rarely if ever happens. Nothing in this world is perfect.

    Someone new to writing might wonder why one would join a critique group. Why would one subject their baby to strangers picking it apart? What are the benefits?

    The benefits are numerous. Though if all you are seeking is praise, maybe a critique group isn’t for you.

    Don’t get me wrong, praise you’ll find, in addition to encouragement, helpful advice, and guidance to aid you in turning your good story into a great story.

    Furthermore, you’ll receive support from other writers who know what you’re going through. Others with whom to share the ups and downs. You’ll acquire feedback, knowledge, and understanding.

    Writing for the most part is a solitary endeavor. As writers, usually the ones closest to us have no idea what it takes to create characters, complete with a past, a present and a future. What a struggle it can be to create a world using only words. It can be very draining. At some point you may find you want—need–to talk, interact with others just like yourself.

    The smartest decision I’ve made since I started writing was to join a critique group. The amount of knowledge I’ve gained is staggering, improving my writing beyond my expectations. Not only have I learned from receiving critiques on my MS, but I learned from giving critiques. In fact, I feel I have acquired more knowledge giving then receiving.

    A critique group is a fantastic place to meet writers of all stages in their writing careers. A great place to hone your craft. A wonderful way to make lasting friendships.

    If you are just starting out on your writing journey, the best advice I can give to you is join a critique group. Learn, laugh, make friends, and have fun.

    Until next Saturday, happy writing.

    Brenda Dyer

    Ah yes the Corset

    Clothing, every character wears them and in most romances at one time or another they have to take them off. But how many really know how period clothing works. I thought long and hard about this blog and what to talk about. After talking to April Dawn and telling her I had a back ground in Costume design and history, I began to realize that to summarize the history of costumes into one page was too hard. So I thought maybe we could bring it down to one piece.

    The Corset.

    Such an integral part of who women where and what they wore. Here was a piece of fabric with whale bones and later metal stays sewn into it to completely alter what a women’s shape looked like. You think today’s man is upset about the wonder bra, thinking they are romancing a woman with a “C” cup only to find out she is barely an “A”. Imagine taking a woman to bed who can’t even take off her corset because she can’t live without it on since her body has been so distorted by it. Now not all periods had corsets that were uncomfortable and inflexible, certainly the regency period had looser stays than the Victorian (which altered the waist to unbelievable sizes), Gibson Girl (which created an unnatural “S” shape to the body) or Elizabethan era (which complexly flattened the front of the body). But all were meant to alter the shape of the woman’s body to the desirable look of the era.

    So let’s talk about the Corset. The basics are the same no matter what period of time you are talking about, its only where and how the cinching occurs that changes. I am not saying all Corsets are the same just the purpose. Let’s stick with Regency as it’s the most romanticized. The silhouette of the woman accentuated the bust. The waistline fell just below the bust and slowly headed south as the 1800’s progressed. The corsets main job was to push up the breasts, of course it still cinched the waist but no one saw the waist so the waist was straighter and less hour-glassed.

    Corsets were expensive. Poor women would not wear one, not only could they not afford one but wearing one would make it impossible to work in the fields. However a woman of moderate status, trying to gain status would definitely aspire to have one. And those with money would have many. The corset was made to the individual’s body. It would have fit like a second skin in most era’s only tighter.

    Because they were expensive items you protected them. A chemise or shift would have been worn under the corset ensuring it didn’t get sweat upon. A petticoat would be worn over the corset adding protection to the corset.

    Now the big problem when writing about the Regency period, we all think that the corset could be easily removed. But in fact it couldn’t the item would be laced up the back. For some the lacing weren’t merely zig-zaged but might have several places in the corset that the laces would go straight up to the next hole. Then once the corset was completely laced the maid would take those two lacing that went up rather the zig-zag and pull them tight and tie from there. This allowed for a tighter look in certain places. The quickie in the library is less likely. I am not saying it didn’t happen just not as frequently as we writers seem to write about. A man, no matter how experience in getting a lady dressed, would be hard pressed in many eras to get the corset just right to allow for the dress to fit again. Remember most women spent a good majority of their time dressing for the events of the evening.

    But I as a reader and writer will gladly suspend my disbelief for a well written love scene and quick tryst with the right hero and heroine.

    And as a closing thought Men once wore corsets too. But found them cumbersome and uncomfortable so stopped wearing them. Smart Men.