Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Finish the Book: Time to Write 2023

COMING IN 2023: Time to Write!!! A weekly blog to help you FINISH THE BOOK!!! 

Stay tuned for more details here!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Me at 56...I can be a bit unusual...not your ordinary kind of girl

 I do not care for old furniture especially claw foot items or chairs with wood legs like pegs. I like modern woods and square edges. And no furniture placed crooked in a room. My world is square.

I laugh hard at shows where bloopers are shown. I ugly cry when I watch shows with families reunited. Shhh..don't tell anyone I got something on my contact. 

I do not like Ketchup....at all. And no BBQ sauce for me either. I will sometimes do a little on hashbrowns or eggs. Rarely. 

I dream in vivid color and usually have haunting dreams. It's best if I wake in the night after dreams to just stay awake. Of course then comes the worry of every possible thing I can imagine. 

I do not enjoy musicals...do not break out in song and dance while I am in the middle of a drama. I will walk out of the theater or turn the channel....just no. Total drama girl here. 

I will not eat Miracle Whip. It is salad dressing and just plain yuck. IT IS NOT MAYO!!!! Nuff said. 

I do not like to wear a dress. My reason for hating church as a child...in the Southern Baptist Chuches God Required you wear a dress. Nope. So I grew up miserable on Sundays and chose a Christian church when grown where the rules and rituals mean I can wear jeans or shorts or even teva sandles. I am there to worship not be judged for not wearing a dress. Does God really care what you wear? And honestly I have enjoyed staying home and watching church online during the pandemic...no real plans to return any time soon at this point. 

I never smoked. I tried it a few times but Asthma wins. I confess I have never tried drugs of any kind. Oh I have had a margarita or two but not often and years pass between them. A drink for me just means an early bedtime. 

I am not a big hugger. Mostly because of social anxiety. I don't mind them but don't offer them much. Socially awkward since birth. It's the truth. When I turned 4 mom had me a birthday party. When everyone sang I cried and crawled under the table. Each year when she asked if I wanted a party the answer was no. Never had one growing up again. Introversion is innate...not just something you get over. The socialites out there can never wrap their head around it. 

I sleep with no socks and one foot outside the covers. And I still give a running jump to go to bed...the thing under the bed might get me. 

I don't mind scary movies but prefer not to watch. The nightmare thing. 

I prefer historical books with strong female heroines and real men. Yes I said it...I love Alpha men because my personality it a bit much for most men. Not sure how Chuck Turner does it. 

I do not care for plants mostly due to fear of spiders and bugs. And it's all I can do to keep children and pets alive...so no plants in the house...besides the cat would try to eat them.

I love to camp. I prefer a camper to tent but have done both. I enjoy cooking outside and sleeping with the sound of the creek. Yep seen bears too. I also bait my own hook and take my fish off myself. Been doing that since age 3. Ain't skeered. 

I get motion sick easily....Harry Potter Ride...couldn't even stand up after that one. Red cross blood drive on a bus about did me in...the vehicle rocked and again I had to lay in the grass outside the bus...or puke. Car sick. Sea sick. Air sick. It's all the same. Don't Rock the boat baby and no long drives please.

I sometimes feel sorry for my daughters cause they got a tomboy, tell it like it is mother who is older than the moms of their peers. Strangely I just never had anything in common with younger women always into their hair and nails and polished world of girl stuff. And rules they set for their 2.5 children like no TV or social media. Get a grip. My girls grades are good. They are well balanced and they watch TV and do social media as they wish. I censor little but we talk a lot about the dangers. Aren't there enough rules out there?

I can still smack a softball. Played a lot of years and every time I have a chance to go into a batting cage I am there, yeah at 55. My all time favorite movie: A league of their own. Brings back memories. 

I have social anxiety. I stress over having to speak in crowds. Run a meeting at work...stressful.  Meet new people...anxiety. And my cup is emptied fast over a crowd. Too much energy leaves me. I guess I am an Alpha girl...never really need anybody but me though I protect the pack. 

I am filled by piddling around my home and getting things done or doing crafts. Writing included. My cup runneth over. Though I am a horrible house cleaner because it just isn't priority to me. Clean enough works. I have other fun thing that are calling me.

I do not like to drink water....I make myself drink it but I prefer diet teas....not unsweetened tea...ick. Southern thing. 

I fear flying. I do it anyway when I have to. Thats when I pray....a lot. 

I love animals. The end. You do not leave them or rehome them due to life happenings. If you have a pet you should take care of it for life. Pets are family and my life is better with them. If you can't love a pet I doubt your ability to love humans. 

My favorite dessert....Flan. 

I have read the Bible through. And I am doing it again. I love Jesus. Again I do not love organized religion. My reason for getting married outside and one day the reason I only want a graveside service for myself. I don't prefer church. I prefer Jesus. Chuch is just another awkward social anxiety thing for me that zaps my level of energy and people fatigue.

I don't care to dance. Not really. I want nothing that means I am the center of attention...anywhere. It's the dress thing again. 

I was country when county wasn't cool and I never much liked the hat acts. It was Alabama's unique sound that got me. Of course I do like the Garth and Toby hat acts. 

I do not care for conferences even though I go to many for writing and work...the minute they want us to hold hands and get to know our neighbor I am out the door. Nope. And about dressing in costume at writing conferences like mascarade parties.... Pass. I do not play pretend well unless writing. Not wearing the dress. I might toss on my cowboy hat. 

I like potted meat and Vienna sausages. There I said it! But in the south we call them VI-eners. 

I only ever slept good under my Dad's roof. Now nights are me sleeping light and waking often. 

I love the spring sun....but not the summer mosquitos and bugs. 

I have walked out of the lives of those who do more harm than good to me and mine. And a few have walked out of my world. Probably best. 

I love a candle flame. But I don't do well with fire or campfire smoke. (Asthma)

I took a certified sailing course once. Just because. 

I only like to cook on weekends when I have time. Week night suppers just fatigue me more. 

Pass the sunscreen...I burn easy and I'd pass on wearing a swimsuit if I had the choice. Actually I wear shorts anyway. 

I imagine my stories in my head when I drive. I can get to my destination and not remember most of the drive. 

I do not care for grapes or cherry tomatoes. I peel my summertime tomatoes...I do not like peels or husks of veggies in my food or soups. 

I love coffee. I love milk. Creamers. Dairy junk...yep. 

I am annoyed at the removal of historical monuments and history. What's that saying if we erase history we are destined to repeat it?

I cannot wear flip flops. Nothing between my toes but love teva sandles. 

I am most lonely in a crowd. I would rather stay home and play alone.

I am sad my girls have grown up so fast. But its nice to see them excel in life. 

I do not care for Pro Football at all...never cared before the take a knee thing either. I hate basketball but like to go watch the Braves Play. And Roll Tide with college football. I do not care for golf or racing either. 

Why were magazine two bucks and now they cost $20....and your first born child? I love to grab a magazine but no longer do... expensive. 

I have never cared for courtroom TV or cops shows. Well except for Longmire, but he's a cowboy. 

I love the days I can now work from home. Only good thing about covid is it opened that door. In 33 years I was never allowed to work from home. So.....I like it!

I do not like to call places to fix things. Banking. Medical. Technical. Social anxiety and lack of patience. And speak English or I will ask for someone who does. 

I once made eye contact with one of the orca whales at Sea World. I once looked right into the eye of a wild humpback whale. I once swam with a dolphin. These amazing cetaceans are smart and knowing. I saw that with the eye contact of captive and wild. 

I love Banana juice. But...too much sugar. 

I rarely nap...if I do I might as well go on to bed because I am nonfunctional the rest of the day. 

I love a heavy rain minus thunder and lightening. 

I sleep on my side or flat on my face. It's I herited from my MA.

I do not like all the old Bible hymns...oh I know them but I prefer contemporary Christian music like Third Day can crank out. 

I know a lot about snakes so neighbors call me to tell them what kind. True story several times. I stayed in the snake house at ZooAtlanta to work some...I enjoy seeing snakes in a safe enclosure. That is how I learned. 

And by the way...never tell me how to drive. I will pull over and hand you the keys or scowl very nasty.

I am emotional. I cry when my girls do things or reach milestones...such a sap down deep. 

I do not wear red much. Mom said I didn't like red as a child. I do love crimson or burgundy. 

I am vanilla on all things. I like chocolate but prefer white chocolate. I like chocolate ice cream but if given a choice will always choose vanilla. I like chocolate cake but I put it in a bowl and add milk....the vanilla part. The Easter Bunny always brought me a white chocolate bunny. Strawberry runs a close second. 

I do not watch Jim Carey or Tom Cruise Movies. The end. Not a fan of either. 

I love to paint inside my house. But it's slow going. My mom taught me to color within the lines. 

I can play poker. My dad taught me. 

I usually hold things in until I have had enough then anything and everything clear back to 1966 will come from my mouth. Forgiveness is earned not given freely to those who have done me wrong. There aren't many second chances. 

I worry about a lot of things I cannot control. I am woman, hear me roar. 

I do not care for know it all big mouths. I am a skeptic. 

And I loved the years me and my family went to Myrtle Beach and hunted Sharks teeth. I have a jar full. I miss hunting those.

I keep a timeline of happenings in my life. Try it sometime. 

I hate self check out and opt out every time. The end. 

I love home made pizza. I love Mexican food. I love Thai food. I love ricearoni. I adore basil rolls.

And goal at 55. I am cleaning each room and tossing things. Tired of clutter. Less junk=Less cleaning. And as I have aged I care little what others think. Frankly, my dear.....and so on. So weird at 56

...probably...but I am true to me. 2022

Sunday, March 20, 2022

To Prologue or Epilogue or not...

There are some editors and some houses that will tell you not to add a Prologue or an Epilogue to your story. There are also some readers who will tell you they usually skip reading the Prologue. Given this what is the best way to add a Prologue and an Epilogue so you can assure your editor, publisher and even your readers will love what you have added to your story. We will start with hints for writing a Prologue first. Keep the Prologue short. If it goes on and on, readers will tire quickly of it. A short and well written Prologue will engage your readers right away if done well. One to three page prologues should be enough to get to the point. A good prologue should include something that isn't shared elsewhere. Make the point of the Prologue be very clear. Again it should be engaging enough to capture your readers attention. But ask yourself why the Prologue is needed. Does it push the story forward or give hints about what the story holds in adding to the story. Make sure the Prologue doesn't give conflicting or confusing information. If a reader cannot engage in what is being presented they may read no further. Would your story be complete without the prologue you have written? If so you don't need the prologue or you need a different angle on it to make the story make sense. A Prologue should not simply be the start of the story where it seems like chapter one. Most often a Prologue should occur prior to where the story starts or for a twist it might explain something that happens in the story after the fact. As an example, it could occurring 4 months prior to chapter one. Or two years prior to chapter one. But it might also add a bit of intrigue for the reader to have the Prologue explain something and chapter one begins several months prior to the prologue, giving the reader a hint at what might have played out. Or a hint of what is coming when chapter one begins prior to the event described in the prologue. A prologue should contain enough action to make the reader engage in what is being planned within the story. But too much action isn't always the answer. If a lot of unexplained action happens without hints of what is to come, the reader may be confused or bored by what is taking place. Make sure the characters within the Prologue are up to something interesting enough to keep the reader engaged. It need to make sense to moving the story forward but a Prologue should not be a place to dump I formation or backstory. Some authors/editors will tell you not to label your prologue as such but to go ahead and make it chapter one. I personally do not agree with this as I mostly write historical western romance where having a Prologue and an epilogue is better accepted. I think it is best to identify for the reader what they are reading. Avoid the dreaded dream Prologue. I have never much liked where a fantastic scene or chapter has the character wake up from a dream at the end, leaving me to wonder if what happened is even a real part of the story. That can be for some readers a big point of dissatisfaction. It might be wise to have a Prologue that occurred in a different location than where the story takes place. This isn't a hard requirement by any means but can add to the engagement of the reader. A prologue should raise but maybe not answer a question. You need to keep the reader wanting more and questions of what happens next can keep the reader turning the page. Readers will want to know they will find put what happens and the promise of that keeps them in the story. A good prologue might introduce the perils or the main problem a character will go through but with only a hint of what will happen. A prologue might be in a different POV than the main character of a story to add a bit of depth. Maybe the POV in the prologue belongs to the villain for instance. And now let's discuss Epilogues. If you write a strong ending to a story some authors and editors may say an Epilogue isn't needed. An Eplilogue takes place outside the main story and most of the time is after time has elapsed at the end of a story such as a few months later to even several year later. A good Epilogue should add to bring more closure to a story when needed, often time more often used in historical novels. It is not another enhanced ending but should satisfy readers further. An Epilogue may serve to further tidy up a story. To enhance by adding things not resolved for the reader in the main story. Often an epilogue may be added to give a hint at how things went after the end of the story. The Epilogue needs to be needed to finalize details. Your story should stand alone without it and it's only purpose is too enhance details of the future. It is OK to leave some things open to the readers imagination and not have an Epilogue. it is important to end your story well instead of worrying about setting up a sequel to the story. Yes you may want to hint at a future story but make your ending clear before you worry about showing your readers the details or hints of what is to come. So an epilogue is best when For closure For happily ever after For introducing a sequel Just make sure that when writing a prologue and or epilogue that they are truly needed and written tight and to the point.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Interview with an Editor!! Welcome Nicole D'Arienzo from The Wild Rose Press.

Repeating a previous post as a reminder of things from the editor's side of things!

Welcome to Nicole D’Arienzo, senior historical editor for The Wild Rose Press! So glad you could take some time out to answer these questions and tell us about the life of an editor.

So first tell us about you and how you got into editing?
 Hmmm …I honestly don’t remember. I had a lot of positive feedback from judging contests and a lot of really nice thank you notes telling me that the way I explained things made sense for the first time, or they appreciated my gentle touch in making suggestions.  When TWRP was just starting out and looking for editors, it seemed like a good fit.  It just sort of fell into place.  Of course, it helps when your sister is the co-owner of the company and you are the only person she knows who knows anything about historical romance LOL.  I honestly only came on board to help set things up and get the department going.  I fully intended to return my focus to my own writing.  It’s been twelve years and I’ve yet to do that!
Do you write as well? (We can post your books covers and links if you want? Your choice whether or not you want to answer this one.)
Yes. I write as Nicole McCaffrey and am published with TWRP. I don’t get much time to work on my own writing these days, but I have five books out with them. 
Tell us why you enjoy editing historical stories and do you edit other genres?
I have edited—and still do edit-- other genres, but I have always been a student of history, have always been fascinated by the way the past shapes the future.  And who doesn’t love the romantic image of the Old South, the adventure of the Old West, or those elegant Lords and Ladies of the Ton?  That’s my kind of escape from the busy lives we all lead.
What do your editing duties with The Wild Rose Press encompass? (What is the typical day in the life of an editor?)
Once I land at my desk for the day there are emails to answer, of course.  New queries to be reviewed and assigned, contract requests from the editors who work with me to review and approve (or not 😊 ), and then there are emails from the authors I work with, returned edits, or blurb changes, etc.  And somewhere in there I still need to edit! LOL.  I’ve gotten very good at compartmentalizing my day, certain times to answer emails, certain times to edit, and so on. Otherwise, my head would be spinning. 
What are the three tops things you look for in a query letter?
As I’m reading a query, three questions are going through my mind:
1) How serious about writing, are you? This goes hand in hand with number two, but I’m looking for things like: published elsewhere, even if it’s self-published (that tells me you can finish a story—not every author can), how long you’ve been writing, etc.
2) What, if any, are your professional affiliations? (i.e., RWA, or other writing organizations. These aren’t necessary in order to be published with us, but if you belong to a group like this, chances are you are a step ahead of some of the other authors in my query inbox on any given morning. J )
3) Can you write? Yes, I am going to look at those sample pages we request and see what you can do!
Simply put, a professional query that follows our submission guidelines and contains minimal punctuation or typing errors is always a breath of fresh air. 
How many stories do you edit per month?
It varies.  Some months I schedule more projects than others. It all depends on the way things fall, if I have a lot of things wrapping up (i.e. galley stage, or near galley stage) I won’t schedule quite so much because I know I will need time to finalize those.  And sometimes authors return their edits later than planned, which necessitates moving things around in my schedule again, or I’m asked to work on a special project that I have to squeeze in somewhere.  So there really is no way to give it a set number. 
What are some of the things you look for right off to know a story is one you are interested in contracting 
That’s actually a two-part answer.  First of all, I’m looking for the basic writing mechanics—good control of viewpoint, active versus passive writing, showing rather than telling. Seeing that definitely gets my attention. 
But that’s not a guarantee the story won’t fall apart halfway through or that the hero or heroine won’t be so unlikeable our preliminary readers can’t relate to them or that the conflict doesn’t end in chapter four and the rest of the story is just filler.  We see these things all the time. 
Basically, if the storytelling is great, I can work with the author on cleaning up the mechanics.  But if the mechanics are solid and they still can’t create characters or a story readers will care about, I’m not sure I can help with that.
So what are some of your pet peeves when reading a manuscript? Well since I’m a historical editor, I have to admit I hate it when authors try to get by without researching. For some reason, they think if they skimp on details or are vague with descriptions, we won’t be able to tell they didn’t research adequately.  But it always shows.  I’m not saying you must go into full detail over every teeny tiny thing, but if you haven’t done your research… trust me, we can tell. 
What is the hardest thing about being an editor?
Probably when you have tried repeatedly to explain something to an author, like viewpoint or active writing and they ignore what you’ve said and continue to write the way they always have.  Sometimes they just don’t understand what it is you’re trying to help them learn. You want them to succeed, you want their “good” story to be “great”. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
What is the best thing about being an editor? 
The relationships I’ve developed with my authors over the years.    It’s wonderful to see their writing grow and change with each book and to see their confidence grow. Some authors I have more personal contact with than others, they share news about college graduations, weddings, the birth of a grandchild.  It’s wonderful to share those moments with them, even if only via Facebook or email.  After twelve years of this, we’ve been through a lot with some of our authors!
What advice would you have for seasoned authors submitting to The Wild Rose Press?
Take time to learn from your edits.  If the edits in your last MS focused a lot on cleaning up passive writing or showing rather than telling, please make sure you’ve addressed that in your current MS before you submit.  I think there is a school of thought that “my editor will fix it” or that it needs to be submitted right away so you can get the ball rolling toward the next release.  In truth, the process goes much faster when you submit your cleanest possible work, it can be the difference between needing only one round of edits.  Or several. So, if your editor is giving you the same edits time after time with every story it’s probably a sign that you need to brush up on those areas.  And you will undoubtedly make her entire week if you address them in your next MS before submitting LOL. 
What advice can you give to aspiring writers?
A couple of things. First, take the time to make a good first impression when submitting.  Be polite, be courteous and make sure you have checked our submission guidelines and followed them to the letter.  I’m amazed sometimes by the number of queries that lack the necessary details we require (detailed synopsis and first five pages of the MS.)  We see a lot of submissions from retirees and new writers and I must say, starting your email with “my son is sending this from his email account because I’m not so good with computers…” is probably not the best way to get my attention.  If you’re submitting to an electronic publisher, it’s probably best to brush up on your computer skills first. 
Second. Take your time.  Writing is a process we learn by doing, but it’s not something you can learn overnight.  The biggest mistake I see from new authors is being over eager.  We’ll send a nice rejection letting them know what they need to work on if they want to be published by TWRP, including links to articles, books on craft, etc. only to have the manuscript resubmitted in a matter of days, sometimes less than 24 hours. I can’t think of too many instances in the past twelve years where someone resubmitted a manuscript that fast and actually focused on everything they needed to. Rushing usually leads to a second rejection and, depending on how well the author did with the revisions, we may not ask to see it again. I promise, there is no expiration date on revising your manuscript after a rejection.  Take the time to be thorough.  The goal, after all, is not simply to be published, but to write a story readers will love.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Deuces Wyld coming soon! April 13th is release day!!!

    She narrowed her gaze and whispered. “You're a starin’ at me like ya’ did when you kissed me, Gambler.  You about to do that again?”  
    He found her abrupt. “Would you want me to?”  
    She sipped lemonade and set the glass back on the crate. “I liked it all right, but it made my lips tingle  and…” She went on, her cheeks flushing pink. “Did  you like it…when you did it to me, cause I ain’t ever  been kissed a ‘fore you?”  
    “I liked it very much.” He leaned in taking a small kiss across her tender lips and then nipped a second.  “You smell like that lilac perfume Laurel brought to  you.” 
    “You want me to open up my mouth, Gambler?” She left her lips partially open.  
    Well, she could change the mood real fast. He held up a finger and smiled anyway. “Not supposed to ask.  Let me show you what I mean. Lay back.”  
    “You ain't gonna try to poke me are you,  Gambler?” Her mouth dropped open.  
    He fell to his back beside her, defeated. This woman was gonna take a lot of fine-tuning. 


Sunday, March 6, 2022

How writing Scenes instead of chapters can help you write faster


So what is the difference between a chapter verses a scene? Some authors make a scene a chapter and some chapters can have multiple scenes.

Everyone has their own style of writing, plotting out every detail or just grabbing a laptop and tossing an idea on the page. There is no right way but learning to write scenes can help you pull your story together faster and help to save the slow middle everyone has to refine. 

Scenes are Mini-happenings that link the story. Scenes have a beginning and middle and end. 

Chapters are clear large happenings which move the story forward and allowed for giving the reader order within the story.

One scene might actually complete a chapter while another chapter might have several scenes. 

I always say and I more a panster than a plotter but that isn't always the truth. I plot out a bit of my story in my head but I have never written a story in order. I know things that will happen and so often enough I write various scenes that I see occurring and later I add them to my WIP. (Work in Progress)

Once added to my WIP I might have to do several things. Once might be that I need to add another scene to connect the current scene into the story to make sure it is connected and what is happening flows. Other times I add the scene and then fluff more of what is happening and a short scene might grow into a full chapter by the time I am done. And lastly I may add rhe scene and realize while I love it...the story doesn't need it. (But I do save these scene in another file so I can keep them if they are not needed.)

It's important when merging scenes that they fit where they have the most impact. Scenes have to fall into the pacing of the story and character arc to make an impact which moves your story forward. 

A lot of times my stories are written in scenes with only scene breaks in between and no chapter headings. Once I have a rough draft I go back and decide how many scenes make each chapter as I work through the story Once more.

Writing in scenes can make a better flushed out story. Meaning scenes can be shorter and tighter...less word count and getting to the point. Thus a cleaner story when you finally have a first draft. This can make editing a bit easier. As you pull together scenes then you can focus on good chapter beginning and how a chapter ends...to make that reader keep reading and turn that page. 

When writing a scene it needs to bring a change or offer a push ahead on the story...not just be stuck there for filler. Something has ro change for the scene to be vital to the story. 

A scene should not be long descriptions of scenery and setting. And it shouldn't just be an idle scene of characters sitting around with no purpose. It shouldn't be random happenings that do not add to the story. And as we always know not to dump backstop or big info dumps...scenes should not do this either. 

Scenes need to add an active turning point. Something needs to happen to add conflict or cause a change for a character or for the overall story. A scene should provide a turning point at times...the character learns something new or realizes something important. Again something should change that impacts the story and reader. 

So whether you are a plotter or panster or write your story in order or not, you may benefit from writing strong scenes verses long chapters. Give it a try...

Remember to identify your scenes purpose. When and where does the scene take place and who is in the scene. Get quickly to the why this scene is needed. What is discovered? What changes? And does it push your story forward?

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Writer's Block Ideas...

There are days it's hard to write. There a weeks I avoid my story all together. There are times I am just plain tired from regular life...full time job, family, pets and somewhere in the middle of knowing my readers are wanting the next story I have often hit the wall.

I don't think I suffer from writers block. I have stories to finish and lists of ones to get to. But now and then I am just not gonna push to get to the story or sometimes push it away and that's OK. SOmetimes it can be good to step away from your novel to refresh your mind. But don't let it sit too long...keep your head in the story and do your best to write that story. But when writer's block seems to be hitting you there are some things to try: *read one of your previous books *read any book *work on notes related to the current story *outline another story *brainstorm ideas with others *work on social media and marketing *research for the current story but set a timer *study story structure *sometimes the point of block is where things in the story are not good...change it *try another POV *reverse trope that is happening *jump ahead or go back to another scene *Refer to your outline *Write backwards *Try music *Change where you are writing *Try butt in chair set a timer......as a last resort of course. No matter what is stopping you from getting to the story work hard to work through it. Make yourself sit and write ornplot and plan. Or...just starting writing something...anything.