Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stories Needed!

      The Wild Rose Press is looking for romance.

      The (primarily) epublisher is calling for submissions of short manuscripts (under 65K words) for all its subgenre lines:

Crimson Rose (Mystery & Suspense, Romantic Suspense)
Scarlet Rose (Erotic Romance)
Faery Rose ( Light Paranormal--elves, fairies, good witches, fantasy, futuristic)
Black Rose (Dark Paranormal--werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires, etc.)
English Tea Rose (Non-American Historical)
American Rose (American Historical)
Vintage Rose (Classic Romance from the eras of 1900 to 1990)
Cactus Rose (Western Historical)
Yellow Rose (Contemporary Cowboys)
Champagne Rose (Contemporary)
Last Rose of Summer (Contemporary with a more mature heroine)
Sweetheart Rose (Contemporary Sweet Traditional)

     Several of the lines also are actively seeking full-length novels and short manuscripts geared toward special series.

     At The Cactus Rose blog, the call is out for submissions to "Earth Songs," short
stories of 40,000 words or fewer, that feature Native American heros, heroines or both, and take place between 1870 and 1890.

     The Last Rose of Summer's special series will take you back to a time in the not-quite-as-distant past, with its high school reunion series, The Class of 1985. Stories should be 7,500 to 40,000, ranging from "sweet" to "sensual" and either the hero, heroine (or both) must have gone to Summerville High School. Summerville is a "medium size city on the shores of Lake Ontario in Western New York State."
      Check out the invitation.
      And if you need some help getting those pens scratching, you might want to check out some of the editors' and authors' blogs:
    Behind the Garden Gate
    American and Vintage Rose
    Black Rose
    Cactus Rose
    TWRP Historical Roses
    Wilder Roses

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New beginnings

     Okay, so y'all wouldn't write on command (see last blog post)  for me (and don't think I'm not taking names), but maybe you'll do it for Avon.
       Avon's not handing out contracts or anything, but they are giving you a chance to limber up a little and put yourself out there to be seen by utter strangers.   Which may be more eye-opening than pats on the back from your mother, sister-in-law or critique group.
      Anyway, here's the deal:  Every two weeks there will be a "prompt" on the Avon blog, having to do with a set-up, character sketches, scene setting or something else. It's up to you to turn it into the beginning of the story.
      Once there are 25 comments -- it  seems the comments can be both the story AND anyone commenting on the story, but I'm not 100 percent sure about that --  a commenter will be chosen AT RANDOM to win a goody from the Avon vaults.
         Here's this week's prompt:
        HE–former high school baseball star who flopped in the pros. Now, he’s back in town to coach the local minor league team.
       SHE: Could write epic volumes on what it takes to be the biggest nerd in your high school. Now, she’s the principal.
       YOUR MISSION: Write the dialogue of the first time they see each other again.
       As of this writing, there were three comments, two of which were story fragments.  I kind of like both of them so far, especially the second.  And no, not just because the hero's name is "Cole."
      Twenty-two to go.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Let's Play a Game...

        Years and years ago, a few of us started a round-robin email story that, admittedly, never went very far. I remember something about a cold, gray seashore, someone walking along it, a boat, a cottage and then a box inside the cottage with a journal inside the box. Maybe a ghost. I think that's about as far as we got.
        We each wrote a paragraph or two and then handed it off to the next person on the email list. Everyone wrote in different voices and styles. A contemporary became a paranormal and, through the diary in the box, an historical.
        Or, I am just recalling it with those rosy-glo hindsight glasses that make things dead (or undead) and buried (or walking the earth when the moon is full) sometimes look a lot better than they ever were.
        I think, but am not 100 percent certain, that the "Pages" Gadget will allow us to do something similar here.  I could create a new tab, call it, oh, say, "Dickens," and everyone could continue the story as comments. 
        Could be good whacky fun.  Or, you know, not.
        Anyone game?
        If so step right up. 
        Above this post you will see the tab. So let's get clickin'.
        In for a penny (as Dickens might say), in for a pixel.

     Or, as Edward Bulwer-Lytton (and Snoopy) might write,  "It was a dark and stormy night......."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Leave 'em wanting more

           Leave 'em laughing (and/or wanting more) is an old show biz maxim, probably stemming from vaudeville or burlesque.
          A new Regency by Sarah MacLean, "Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake," came out at the end of March. Still haven't managed to get my hands on it but it's definitely on my TBR list. (My first couple of forays to B&N and Borders found their shelves depleted of romance and their staffers alphabetically challenged.)
          One of the things that drew me to look for the book in the first place  was a snippet of dialogue that kept appearing on various review sites. After the experimenting heroine expresses her satisfaction with a brief peck from the hero, he advises her that "Kisses should not leave you satisfied." [He then proceeds to demonstrate.] "They should leave you wanting."
         The dialogue left me wanting to read more. But clever dialogue alone won't carry your story if the words don't help us to know who these characters are or what they want or why we should waste time over them. Or if it paints your heroic imaginary friends in an unsympathetic light. (If they are your villains, that's a different matter.)
         I know all this in my head. I know it when I'm reading other people's stories. It's hard to remember, though, when I'm actually trying to execute.
        I need to keep reminding myself why things don't work.  That scenes should leave us in a state of page-turning anticipation, if not outright excitement. When our writing is going nowhere, that may be why. Sometimes we get all tangled in meandering briar patches of words, sometimes we repeat the same sentiment or chunk of backstory or exposition until the reader is rolling her eyes, sometimes it's all just hot sex.
       Without emotion, hot sex cannot carry a story. Without emotion that's unattached to a three-dimensional character with wants and needs and goals and motives,  we just don't care.  We need to connect to the characters.
      The scene has to be logical. It has to lead us from where we left off before to a new place, fraught with dilemma, conflict and anxiety, new challenges that must be overcome.  By the same token, if the characters merely skurry about from place to place to place, without ever stopping to consider the velvet texture of a rose petal or the way the smell of bacon makes your appetite sit up and take notice, we also don't care. At least I don't.
      Whenever I write myself into a corner, I try to remember this, with varying degrees of success. Let them do something. Something critical, something intriguing, something that advances the story, that takes the risk factor to a whole new level.  And then let them react.  So that the reader will.  In a manner that keeps the pages turning.
     Currently, I'm stymied by a scene in which I know, logically, that an exchange of information, and trust, has to occur. That the hero and heroine have to pull away from each other in one sense, while coming closer in another. As outside forces begin to close in.
     They're not cooperating with me at all. They're casting smoldering looks at each other and flopping around in bubbles, completely ignoring me.
      I'm so afraid they're about to get shot. Or that their hideaway will be blown to bits. While they're still in it.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Murphy's Bill

       Murphy's Bill has been my lodestone for at least a week now.

       Many of you probably know the axiomatic "Anything that can go wrong will" as Murphy's Law.

       As far as I'm concerned, however, and based on the way things are going, the Murphyism has not yet achieved codified statutory status and may never.  If you think about it, failure to ever achieve actual legality is much more in keeping with the true spirit of Murphydom, anyway.
      [I'm not exactly of the Schoolhouse Rock generation but SR's iconic "I'm Just a Bill" is such a classic of our time that I had more than a passing familiarity with how a bill becomes a law, even before the health care reform saga that consumed political pundits and commentators (if not the general public) for the better part of last year and a chunk of this one.  That, combined with the current political climate and the intrinsic "anythingthatcangowrongness" of Murphy, convinces me it will never be presented for the president's signature.]

      But (say it with me), I digress.

      Woke up bright, shiny and early (for me) this morning to accomplish things. Plot and story things. Writing things.  After a weekend brainstorming session with two of my CPs, I was brimming and bristling with ideas.

     But no. It was not to be. Here  it is after 1 p.m. and all I've accomplished thus far is to scatter a few instances of the word "trust" into the first two pages of my WIP as if they were croutons.

     In my defense, I have been a little bogged with other matters. Probably a little overbogged, actually. Some of you know this already, based on the number of annoying e-mails you have been receiving from me since, oh, at least Thursday.

    But when someone e-mailed me to find out if I was okay since I  hadn't been around to her blog in a few days, I figured I should at least make a small pit stop here.   
    This driveby is not anything Murphy, because to tell the truth, I forgot what I wanted to say about that. And some of what I did remember I decided to self-edit.

    So I give you all this instead:     The Procrastinator's Creed

    And my personal favorite, Number 10: "I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it."

Monday, April 5, 2010


     So now that I'm all caught up in the colossal (but fun and often informative) time-sucks that are Twitter and Blogger, I'm gradually being dragged kicking and screaming into the e-universe.
      My thoughts about e-publishing have undergone a drastic 180.  While I still believe there's an awful lot of really crappy stuff out there, I think there's a lot of really crappy stuff in print, too. I mentioned one of those print crapola fests on Wendy Marcus's blog Must Have Romance about a week or so ago.
     The premise of the book was that a brilliant, high-powered financial consultant suddenly decided she wanted her most important client to father a baby for her, no strings attached, although they've had no romantic or social relationship up to this point. He's gorgeous, of course. Also incredibly wealthy. (Although why this should matter, if she's truly after no-strings sperm, is beyond me.) She summons him to her office, not to discuss his portfolio, but to inform him of her whim. And not only does she want his, er, DNA, but she also wants him to accompany her to the tropics for a procreation vacation.
     Yeah. Sure. Right.
      I find I am able to suspend disbelief when it comes to vampires and shape-shifters and demons of every stripe, but not when it comes to high-powered financial consultants. Maybe it's just me.  I am willing to put up with the outlandish and incredible in a paranormal. Even in a historical. (Unless, of course, there are zippers present long before their time.) But I find I am unwilling to accept such laughable ludicrousness in a contemporary setting.
      And yes, I once again digress.
      The whole I-Pad craze over the weekend got me thinking about this. I have no need or use for an I-Pad, I think.  But what I really want, is an e-reader. Even  six months ago, this would not have been a yearning. Since then, though, I have downloaded lots of books, some digital first, that I enjoyed a great deal and that introduced me to new authors. 
     It's a question of instant gratification and mobility. If I read an intriguing review and MUST HAVE THE BOOK, I can instantly download it. It's just not that much fun (not to mention uncomfortable), being chained to the computer for 400 pages. Especially if it's a riveting page-turner you cannot put down.
     Try tossing your PC onto your night table at 3 a.m.