Write Fright!

Rose's Colored Glasses

Oct 2008 Newsletter

What's Inside?

Announcements!
From an Editor's Perspective
Superstitions as Plot Devices
Building Suspense
Fantasy or Paranormal?
Face the Fear
Weather as Setting
It's NaNo Time!
Dear Rose

 

Announcements!

What's New in the World of the Roses?

 

Join us for this fabulous Roses Workshop
Roses Self-Editing Workshop!

October 19-25th
Clean up your manuscript with these tips and tricks

Back in January to kickstart your writing year!
Roses Plotting Bootcamp
Jan 5 - 31st
Sign up now, space is limited so beat the crowd!

Allie Standifer and Eve Savage announce the sale of their first co-written book, Candy-Coated Passion to Ellora's Cave. They are writing together under the pseudonym Kat Alexis
Betty Hanawa's book, Balanced Heart was released on Oct. 10th. Less Than Perfect Family will be available in print Oct. 31. She has a book signing schedule Nov. 1st in Harlingen, TX, and another book signing in League City, TX on Nov. 15th.
Judith Rochelle writing as Desiree Holt, is proud to announce two new releases with Ellora’s Cave, Once Burned, and her first single author anthology, Hot Wicked and Wild. Her latest release with Total-e-bound is Summer Spice and it can spice up your Fall, too! She has recently signed a contract for a full-length erotic romance, Do You Trust Me, with The Wild Rose Press.
Delilah Devlin is pleased to announce Down in Texas will be out in boobookstores in November!
Delilah Devlin & Myla Jackson ares pleased to announce Alluring Tales: Hot Holiday Nights will be out in boobookstores in November!
Elle James is pleased to announce the November release of her Harlequin Intrigue Nick of Time is a Romantic Times Top Pic!
Judith Rochelle's The Scent of Danger, Book Three: The Phoenix Agency, will be released November 4. Also in November is the release of Wild Wayback Nights, from The Wild Rose Press, which includes her novella, Shadow of the Hawk.
Myla Jackson is pleased to announce the sale of a her novella Cat Scratch Fever to Ellora's Cave Publishing
Judith Rochelle's novella, Shadow of the Hawk, part of The Wild Rose Press Wayback, Texas series, will be released in print in November in a four-story anthology
Elle James is pleased to announce the sale of For Better or For Worse (Dec 09) and a book in the 2010 Bodyguard continuity (Mar 2010) to Harlequin Intrigue.

From an Editor's Perspective...
By Layla Chase

In addition to being a writer, I'm also a freelance editor and spent two years editing for Ellora's Cave. Editors see lots of submissions and are looking for those few that stand out from the rest. Give your story the best possible chance at grabbing an editor's attention by following these five guidelines:

 

 

Characterization

People your stories with characters who are well developed with quirks and flaws, in addition to their strengths. Start the story at a point of major change for one of the characters and keep the plot pushing that character to make decisions that are logical for his or her upbringing, background and lifestyle. Because of the growth experienced throughout the story, the character makes a choice in the finale he or she would not have considered at the beginning.

Point Of View

Learn how to wring emotion from your scenes by writing in deep POV. Don't tell an editor a character is nervous; construct sentences using physical actions that can only be interpreted as the character being in a nervous state. Write so readers feel like they are inside the character's body and sharing the experience-careening a vehicle across town to thwart the delivery of a package containing his or her secret, watching a beloved being kidnapped from only twenty feet away, feeling the numbing grief as the first clump of dirt lands on a child's casket.

Setting

Although fiction is different than journalism, the same essential details are needed at the beginning of every story. Where and when is the action happening to which characters? Writers often introduce a setting, place the characters there and then forget about it while the characters devise their next plat for solving the story problem. Make the setting work for your scene. In a conference room, two people won't sit stock still in chairs and have a conversation that takes up three manuscript pages. One will become agitated and pound a fist on the heavy oak table or will stand and pace along the narrow space behind the chairs. One might go to the white board and draw sketches of the planned attack. Having the same conversation in a classy restaurant would change the tone and their actions. No fist pounding or pacing. You must choose other tools for showing the tension-conversation through clenched teeth, clattering of silverware, crumpling of the linen tablecloth. Don't forget to add the noises and smells we all experience while sitting in any restaurant.

Active writing

Contemporary stories need the crisp, precise language readers hear every day. Not too many complex sentences with lots of commas, or descriptions involving strings of adjectives. Choose strong verbs to depict the desired action without the help of -ly adverbs. Look for repeated words or phrases and find new words to express that action. Check for variety in he beginning of your sentences and paragraphs. Historical writers have a bit more freedom in the tone and description, but still need to make the writing appropriate for the story's era.

The basics

Good spelling and accurate grammar cannot be emphasized enough. Take the time to spellcheck your work. Turn on the grammar check in your word processing program and address every one of the green squiggly lines (for Word users). Learn what a dangling modifier is and if any of your sentences contain that structure. Don't give the editor this reason to reject your story. No editors have time to slog through typos or sentences with non-matching verb and subject tense to discover your wonderful, heartstring-tugging story.
All of these elements must be present in a quality submission that will catch an editor's eye. As the author, you have the ability to develop your writing craft to do just that.

 

 

Superstitions as Plot Devices
by Judith Rochelle

As we approach Halloween and all things spooky, I am reminded of the number of superstitions that abound and what great plot twists they make.

What is a superstition?

Derived from a Latin word that literally means "standing over" or "standing in awe," the term means an unreasonable or excessive belief in fear or magic, or on a notion not based on reason or knowledge.

Some of the more common superstitions that would make great hooks for a story are:

Black Cat

If a black cat crosses your path, you will have bad luck: what a great start to a mystery or thriller, a black cat walking in front of an unsuspecting person.

Broken Mirror

To break a mirror will bring you seven years bad luck: A woman in anger smashes a mirror and is pursued by seven years of bad luck, so seeks a cure for the curse.

Clothes worn inside out

Clothes worn inside out will bring good luck: Someone who desperately needs to change their luck shows up in public dressed this way. A good conversation starter as well as a scene for a comedic romance.

An itchy palm

An itchy palm means money will come your way: In a romantic suspense, there could be a fight over the sale of land, and the money comes to an unsuspecting person whose only clue is an itchy palm.

Sleeping on a table

It is bad luck to sleep on a table: But what a great way to start a story-or change the direction of the plot.

Mistletoe Kisses

To refuse a kiss under mistletoe causes bad luck: How many romantic novels could you use this in!

Dog's howl

When a dog howls, death is near: Great for a thriller

The broom!

It is bad luck to chase someone with a broom: And oh my, couldn't you just see this in a witch-type story!

Drowning

A drowned woman floats face up, a drowned man floats face down, a person cannot drown before going under three times: Take your pick, one or all three for a convoluted mystery. And maybe the dead bodies could bring two people together solving the mystery and falling in love

Wedding Veil

The wedding veil protects the bride from the evil eye: Or hides her identity.


Well, you get the idea. Superstitions provide much fodder for plotting, for subplots, for character development. As Halloween draws near, dig up a few of your favorite superstitions and see what you can build around them.

 

Building Suspense
by Elle James

Ever read a book that captured your attention and held it from the first page? Did you hate putting it down because you couldn't wait to find out what happened next to that character? Did the story make you sit on the edge of your seat and question everything you read because you just knew it held the key to the final resolution? Were the action, dialogue and characters so intense you couldn't sleep until you reached the end of the story? Then you were reading a well-written suspense! As a writer, how do you craft such a success? Here are a few tips from my tool box.

Action!!!!

A writer's temptation is to explain everything that leads up to the story. That's backstory. Psfft! Bluh! Yuk! Boooring! Ditch it and get to the action! Start your book in the action. It grabs the reader and they'll hold on by the fingernails to see what happens next. Starting in the action establishes the expectation for the suspense and continued action and sets the tone for the rest of the book. You can explain later by layering in bits and pieces of backstory through conversations, sleuthing, or revealing scenes with your characters as you build the story.

Goals & Motivations

Your characters need goals to move the story along. If it's to save the world, that's a goal. If it's to resolve a mystery, that's a goal. The character has to want something and be willing to work hard to get it. Motivations are the reasons why a character wants what he wants bad enough to go after it. Character wants to find out who killed his wife (goal). Why? Because he's being accused of her murder and needs to clear his name or go to jail (motivation). Make the goals interesting, captivating and worth your readers' time to invest in the outcome. Then give your characters the motivations that make your reader invest in that character and sink into that character's world for the duration of the book. The character has to have something personally at stake to make it more compelling. Solving a mystery for the sake of solving a mystery isn't enough. Solving a mystery because someone's life is at stake? Now that's motivation!

Conflict

Suspense is all about conflict! You now know what your character wants and why, but without conflict, you have nothing. Definitely not a suspense! You MUST HAVE CONFLICT!!! If you are basically a nice person and want everything to turn out hunky-dory for your characters you may struggle with conflict. But believe me, no conflict=no story. Conflict is what gets in the way of your characters attaining their goals. The tougher you make it for your character to reach his goals, the more hopeless it looks, the more impossible the odds he faces, the better your conflict. Start with smaller conflicts and raise the stakes for each conflict as you go. The consequences need to get worse and worse until the big black moment of the book when the reader thinks all is lost and there's no way the character can recover. Then you've GOT 'EM!

Plant, Grow, Reap

Plant clues early on in your story, make them subtle, but plant them! A reader hates being cheated by conveniently giving the character the method to solve the mystery at the end unless it's been hinted at in the beginning and middle. Along with the hints, toss in the red herrings to throw your character off the trail and make him work hard to wade through the haystack of non-meaningful information to get to the real guts of the mystery. The more he learns along the way on his own, the more your reader will appreciate the intelligence of the character and his ability to succeed in the end.

Ticking Clock

A great way to build the tension and conflict is to use a ticking clock. The characters are working against a tight timeline. Establish a timeline for your character to solve the mystery or save the world or the princess or whatever and then make it even shorter! Talk about creating tension!

Craft your words for the thrill

As the tension in the story builds, the pacing of the story should tighten. Sentences and dialogue should become shorter and to the point. Don't waste words, it'll slow the pace. Pick crisp, short verbs, limit the descriptions, fragment the sentences and go for the readers' guts. Make readers sweat and worry by making your characters show their sweat and worry. Don't tell, show!

 

Suspense is all about building. Start with a good foundation of characters with real and compelling goals and motivations. Slam them with conflict, start in the action and make them suffer throughout. Build on your clues, build on your conflicts, build the tension through your writing, your dialogue, the action. When you've done all that, you've got Suspense!

 

Fantasy or Paranormal?
by Betty Hanawa

Genre definitions are slippery and are subject to changes of whim. To paraphrase Captain Barbosa, they're not exactly definitions, they're more like guidelines.

Many of us are writing paranormal and fantasy these days. Why not? We all have an urge to escape reality occasionally and how better than to escape to a world with different rules than exist in ours. It's fun to put a bizarre twist on the "What If" question. Interest is there in both genres and sales are strong in the market.

Paranormal

Dictionary.com defines paranormal as: of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena. Paranormal is a human world with slight differences. Those characters who people paranormal stories come from the human body and/or are humans who have an extra trait, as in seeing dead people. In a paranormal, the world building itself isn't much different from the world of our reality. It's just peopled differently. Once upon a time, ghosts, vampires, shifters were considered part of the fantasy genre. Now stories with these beings are considered paranormal books.

Fantasy

When worlds include dragons, elves, pixies, fairies, the creatures of legends, they are fantasy worlds. Legendary beings, which are not human, populate the world and interact with humans. By that vague definition, the old gods are also considered fantasy beings.

In fantasy, the world itself can be a variation of our perception of reality or go by completely different rules. In either case, the worlds must be different enough that readers know many (if not all) of the characters aren't human and realistic enough that readers can relate to them. J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Pratchett's books with their deep other world building are fantasies. So too are the Harry Potter books and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. The latter two have legendary characters living in the "human" world.

Just to muddy the waters, the characters of paranormal can and do frequent fantasy worlds also. The two genres march together in the market bookshelves. Humans and their variations and additions populate the paranormal world. Legendary beings are in the populations of the fantasy worlds.

The joy is in the writing and reading of both

 

Face the Fear
by Allie Standifer

A great leap or one tiny foot-shaking step. Any instance of branching out or writing something different boils down to one thing--

FEAR !!!!

Fear stops us from trying out a new genre or writing that melt-your-keyboard sex scene floating around in your head.

I speak from experience in letting that red demon of 'fraidy cats rule my writing world. Up until two years ago, I'd been determined to write suspense. My books would keep you awake at night waiting for the slight scrape of nails across your bedroom window or the hollow footsteps in the hall. I managed to finish one romantic mystery and didn't feel like I thought I should. Finally I gave in to the urging of my own muse and my writing group.

What? Me? Write Humor? Huh?

They told me to write humor. Humor?? What did I know of humor? Taking the awful chance of attempting to write funny and watching it flop kept me away from the keyboard for months until finally I couldn't stay away. My frustration overcame my fear and I set out to try this new venue.

To my everlasting shock, amazement and bafflement, readers and reviews alike praised my books and told me they laughed out loud while reading my work. There is no higher praise in my world than making someone forget their troubles and laugh at the antics of my characters.

So you have the two roads that lie ahead: one brightly lit and easy to see. The other dark and filled with things just out of sight that go bump in the night.

Pick the road of your heart and face the fear

Pick your road--just know you can always change direction mid-stride and wade through the fear to where your true muse is calling.

 

Weather as Setting
by Roni Adams


Everyone's read the story where the hero and heroine are conveniently trapped in a cabin by a snow storm. You've seen the situation done a lot because frankly, it works. What better way to force the central characters to be together for an extended period of time with no one else around-and no way to escape should the tension become unbearable. But have you ever considered using other weather changes to enhance your writing?

Weather ? Setting ? Character ?

You've probably also heard that the setting of your story is a secondary character. Along with your setting, whether you are in a large city or a small town, you need to think about the weather around your characters to deepen further the backdrop.

Weather for creating scenes

Don't use the weather simply as a means to trap your couple in one place. Use it to create scenes. Picture summer-blazing hot temperatures in the upper 90's. What a perfect time for your heroine to show off that brand-new bikini or your hero to dive into the pool in a perfect jackknife dive meant to make your heroine's heart race. No pool? How about a lawn sprinkler? What hero doesn't stand at attention at the sight of the heroine in a wet t-shirt?

Know your area weather

Be careful though. You really need to understand the weather of the area you are writing. Don't write a story set in upstate New York in March and expect the heroine can walk outside in her flip-flops and cut offs. Similarly, Christmas in Orlando won't mean a new pink parka and ski boots. Those are extreme examples but if you're writing about an area you are only vaguely familiar with, you need to research the weather to make sure you don't commit a huge mistake. Readers would love to point out your mistakes to you.
Snow and heat aren't the only seasonal changes you can use.

Laying Sensory Details

Absolutely nothing is better than Fall in certain areas of the country. Use the backdrop of leaves falling, crisp fires burning, and apple picking. This adds a level of sensory detail to your story that pulls the reader right there. Spring is an equally beautiful time of year in certain states, use it to your advantage. Enhance your writing with the changes in temperature.

More is involved in writing with the seasons than just putting on Christmas music and writing a holiday scene. Think outside the usual and do something different. If all else fails, you can always trap your hero and heroine with a good old-fashioned ice storm.

IT'S NANO TIME!!!
by Shayla Kersten

 

What time is it, boys and girls? That's right, it's NaNo time!

Once again enterprising writers-amateur and professional-from all over the world are gearing up for the annual National Novel Writing Month aka

NaNoWriMo!

A great way to kick your muse into action, NaNoWriMo is a month long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. The rules are simple. Starting November 1st, ban your inner-editor and just write! If you write 1667 words per day, by the end of November you'll have 50k and a pretty certificate naming you as a Winner!

Camraderie + Competition = BANG!

Of course, we're all winners anytime we finish a manuscript but the sense of camaraderie from NaNoWriMo helps get the juices flowing. The challenge of tens of thousands of other participants brings out a sense of competition and helps you keep up.

So take some time in October to plan your next novel and join us at the Roses thread on the NaNoWriMo forums! We'll push each other into fast and furious mode!

NaNoWriMo Forums

The NaNoWriMo forums are at: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/forum. The Sign Up link is in the top right corner. After you sign up, the Roses thread is located at: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3004771.

Roses NaNoWriMo Thread

In addition, you can set up information about you as a writer-great promo opportunity. Check out my profile at http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/124886 and see the different options available, like website, biography, pictures, etc. Once NaNo starts, you can post excerpts of your book as well.

Pop over to the main forum and check out the genre section and the tons of helpful information.

I'll be around on the Roses forum to help with questions about setting up your profile and posting. Plus I can be reached at shaylakersten@yahoo.com if you need help off the forum.

Come join us for a fabulous November!

 

Dear Rose

I've been writing for a few years and have always enjoyed working my way through the love scenes. Lately, however, they've become pretty stale. Start with kissing, go to oral, tab A into slot B... repeat. How can I ramp up the love scenes in my stories?

Signed,

In a rut in Colorado Springs

Dear Colorado,

Ahh, yes. The step-by-step love scene. While it's true the fundamentals of lovemaking are pretty concrete, the atmosphere, emotions, and occasional toy help to break the monotony and make each scene different and special. Here are some tips I use to shake things up.

Love scenes, for the most part, are rarely in the male's POV. If they are, it's usually the foreplay. Challenge yourself to write an entire love scene from the hero's perspective.
If the scene is in the female's POV, the reactions are often about what he's doing to her. Try to make it about what she's doing to him and how his reactions affect her.

Try an off-the-wall location OR have one partner be completely nude while the other is mostly clothed. The dichotomy will add to the emotions making the sex more open for one and more closed off for the other. Conflict!

Write the love scene as though it were one of your fantasies in first person, present tense. When you're done, rewrite changing ONLY the tense and person. You'll be surprised at how active and raw the scene will be.

Love scenes, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Remember not all love scenes have to end in blazing orgasms, but they must be essential to the plot and move the story and conflict forward.

Good luck and keep writing!

Rose