Category Archives: writing

New Beginnings: A writing tip to snag that elusive publishing contract.

So you’ve finished your manuscript…yay! Way to go!

No, seriously, it’s an awesome accomplishment to have poured your heart and soul onto paper (or screen), created memorable characters, and devised a plot twisting story. So kudos to you.

Maybe along the way you’ve had it critiqued, entered a few contests for feedback, and edited it to hell and back, lovingly polishing into a shiny patina.


Zenobia_witch***rubs hand together with an evil gleam in your eye saying, ‘muwhahahaha’***


(Not the visual you’d use? I write paranormal, so I tend to go with the evil witch-type visual, use whatever suits you!)



What!? You haven’t polished your manuscript yet?


Well, do it now.

Go ahead…I’ll wait.


Tick, tock. Tick, tock.




Okay, good.


Next…research editors and agents. Find one’s who’ll be interested in your story. Stalk them. Yes, I said stalk them, but not in the creepy kind of way…just observe. Find them on their blogs,


266px-Facebook.svg …they’re there.

Most will be posting about books they want to represent, or books they love, which is your clue as to whether you should send your baby to them or keep looking.

Done that? Good. 

 No, it’s not good, you say. Conan_Rejection_Letter (1)


You’ve received a gazillion rejection letters, had your hopes so high in the clouds only to fall down into the deepest of gutters.


*Sigh* Been there, done that.


 Forty two times! Yes, you heard me right…47 times, 47 hopes dashed with 47 rejection letters.


Every writer has been there, maybe not as many times as myself, but they’ve been there. It’s part of the business of writing. A sucky part, but a part none the less.


*Kathryn Stockett’s, The Help, was rejected 60 times before becoming a bestseller.

* Stephen King’s, Carrie, was rejected dozens of times.

*John Grishim’s, A Time to Kill, was rejected by a dozen publishers and 16 agents.

*Margaret Mitchell’s, Gone With the Wind, was rejected 38 times.


WE ARE NOT ALONE! (Yes, I’m a huge X-Files fan)

You think you’ll never sign on the elusive dotted line of the much coveted publishing contract, right? Wrong!

Put on your big girl/boy pants, take a deep breath, and listen closely.

To read the rest of this post, I’m guest blogging on Paranormal Romanitcs, so click their banner below to be taken to their website and find out how to snag that elusive publishing contract!



2014 Melody of Love Contest Is Accepting Submissions July 1, 2014- September 7, 2014:

Get Your Book in Front of an Editor/Agent! 


RWA chapter, Music City Romance Writers, will be taking submissions for our annual Melody of Love Contest. This is a FABULOUS way to get your work in an editor’s/agent’s hands (and we have great Final Judges). Submission requires the first 25 pages.

I’m lucky enough to be the Contest Coordinator this year and want to encourage writers to give it a shot and enter. You don’t have to be an MCRW member or even an RWA member to enter, as the contest is open to anyone with a manuscript in the categories of Contemporary romance, Paranormal romance, Historical romance, New Adult, and Young Adult.

Final Round Judges:


Danielle Burby– Agent at HSG Literary Agency

Angela James- Acquiring editor at Carina Press


Victoria Lowes- Agent at The Bent Agency

Brenda Chin– Acquiring editor at ImaJinn Books

Cindy Brannam– Acquiring editor at Soul Mate Publishing


Heidi Moore- Acquiring editor at Samhain Publishing

Janet Clementz– Acquiring editor at Soul Mate Publishing

New Adult:

Eric Ruben– Agent at Eric Ruben Literary Agency

Mary Altman- Acquiring editor at Sourcebooks

Young Adult:

Mandy Hubbard Agent at D4EO Literary Agency

Lauri WellingtonAcquiring editor at Black Opal Books


It’s important to remember that the contest is limited to 75 entries. It is acceptable to submit the entry form and payment BEFORE you submit your pages in order to guarantee your spot. However, all three parts (first 25 pages, entry form, payment) must be received by Sept. 7, 2014. We begin taking entries July 1, 2014 with the final deadline set for September 7, 2014. So take a look at the info below and if you want to enter, visit RWA’s website for links to the official entry form.

Entry Fees and Eligibility:

* Entry fee for MCRW Members: $22

* Entry fee for RWA Members: $27

* Entry fee for non-RWA Members: $32

* All entries must be received by Saturday 11:59 PM EST, September 7, 2014

* Author can be unpublished or published

* Manuscript being entered cannot have been published and cannot be currently contracted to be published via any means at any time, including self or subsidy publishing.

* Manuscript should be a romance or romantic elements novel of 40,000 words or more.

*Entry form and details on RWA website


* Questions? Contact Contest Coordinator Sophia Kimble:



Your entry must have the following three elements:

1) Payment Via check or PayPal.

2) A completed entry form.

3) Your manuscript’s first 25 (or fewer) pages, no synopsis, emailed to the coordinator as an attachment. We recommend but do not require that you omit prologues and end your partial at a cliffhanger, even if it means you don’t send 25 whole pages. (Note: finalists may need to provide a short synopsis at the request of the final round judges.)

Send your entry to contest coordinator Sophia Kimble at: by September 7, 2014.

Entry Form


Entry Specifics:

1) All entries must be electronic and in standard manuscript format:

  • 12 point standard font (TNR, Courier New)
  • double-spaced
  • indented paragraphs (ie not block style)
  • 1-inch margins
  • .rtf or .doc format

2) Pages should include a header with manuscript title, category and word count. Pages should also be numbered. Your name should not appear on the entry.

3) Coordinator will send emails to confirm receipt of entries. Please allow 5 working days (ie, not weekends or holidays) before you ask the coordinator whether the entry has been received.

  • Email address for questions is and the contest coordinator is Sophia Kimble.

4) Contest limited to 75 total entries, in order of receipt of all three parts. The optional subgenres (Fiction w/Romantic Elements; Erotic; Inspirational) on the entry form are used only to determine the best judges for your work and do not affect scoring or final round editor assignment.

5) While it is acceptable to submit the entry form and payment before you submit your pages, all three parts (pages, entry form, payment) must be received by September 7, 2014, or your entry will not be counted in the contest. Your entry fee will be reimbursed if this happens. The entry form alone is insufficient to “reserve your spot” should the contest fill up; payment must be included as well.

6) Score sheets will be emailed to contestants.


Document Formatting Tidbits:

* Your chapter should be in .rtf or .doc format. Please do not send .docx files.

* Important: Be aware that your name may be in the document properties as the document’s creator because of software settings. If you don’t know how to change it, the coordinator can delete this for you with your permission.

* Do not paste the chapter into the body of the email.

* Use a standard font and standard formatting, as described above.

* Your entry will be test-opened upon receipt; if there are issues, you will be notified. If you do not respond to the notification before the contest deadline and work with the coordinator to rectify the issues, your manuscript may be disqualified. With your permission, the coordinator can standardize the format of the manuscript for you.


Judging Specifics

1) Three Judges per entry. The lowest score will be dropped, but will be used in case of a tie. All entries will be judged by at least one published author, the other two judges will be a combination of published/RWA PRO/trained judges. All judges’ decisions are final.

2) Barring unforeseen circumstances, finalists will be announced mid October 2014. Finalists may be asked to provide a short synopsis. Finalists will be notified via e-mail and posted on the MCRW website. First round scores of finalists will be emailed as soon as possible; finalists may submit a revised draft electronically before it is forwarded to the final round judges in early November, with a deadline to be specified at that time.

3) Other scores will be released within 30 days after the finalists are announced. Winners will be announced shortly after all final round judges return their scores, hopefully mid-December 2014.



1st place: $50, and a  certificate

2nd and 3rd place: Certificate

An optional benefit for all finalists is a one year membership to MCRW. Due to RWA rules, this benefit can only apply to current members of RWA or members who join RWA within a couple months of finaling in the Melody of Love contest. We are not authorized to extend membership to anyone who is not a member of Romance Writers of America.

All finalists and winners will be announced on our website.

All finalists will also be published in the Romance Writers of America’s monthly publication, the RWR.

Fine print:

1) Entries received that are found to have been published by any means will be disqualified. No entry may be withdrawn after being submitted to the contest with one exception (see below). Entry fees from disqualified entrants will not be refunded. Entrants who finaled in our contest previously may enter again, but don’t re-enter the finaling manuscript. Membership status of entrants who claim RWA membership will be verified with RWA. For the purpose of this contest, published is defined as available for sale by any means or as a free download via retail sites such as Smashwords and Amazon. Entry fees will be refunded to entrants in any category that does not receive the minimum number of entries unless they request placement in another category. Any entries over the contest limit of 75, or those received after the due date, will be returned along with the entry fees.

2) Here is the one exception about withdrawing your entry. If you receive a contract for your submission or self-publish it before the contest deadline of September 7, 2014, you may withdraw your entry with proof of contract or publication and your fee will be returned.

 ***permission to forward and share granted and encouraged***






Can you write during a natural disaster?

I have been invited to join the…My Writing Process Blog Tour, and today, April 28, 2014 is my day. Now, had I not waited until the last minute to write this post, I wouldn’t be trying to write in between Tornado Warning sirens and Lightning strikes, but that is exactly what I am doing. Image

I wanted to give heartfelt condolences to those affected by the tornado outbreak yesterday in Arkansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma, and say a prayer for all those in its path today.

That being said…  Can you write during an impending natural disaster? A hurricane, tornado, earthquake, blizzard?  Would love to hear from you guys as to wether,  WEATHER can inspire or hinder your creative juices. Please leave a reply and let me know.

Okay, on with the blog tour…

I want to thank my friend and fellow author, Patty Taylor Koontz, who invited me to participate in this tour. She has a great page on Fairie Magic …check it out.

What am I working on now?

I am finishing the final editing and polishing of my paranormal romance titled, Avenge Her. It is the second novel in The Druid’s Curse series. The first novel, Protect Her, will be released with Soul Mate Publishing October, 2014.

Avenge Her:

When a plan set in motion centuries ago threatens Malcolm Campbell’s godchild, he must overcome his hatred of all things magical to protect those he loves. A blizzard traps a beautiful witch in his castle and tests the strength of his vow of celibacy. She insists she can help him against the malevolent being threatening his godchild, but learning to trust a witch is one thing, learning to forgive her kind and fight by her side is another. Somehow Malcolm must do both before the evil that lurks seals his godchild’s fate.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My series feature a Druid as the antagonist. I have not found too many novels with Druids, and the one’s that I’ve seen or read, feature the Druid as either the hero or heroine.

Why do I write what I do?

I have always been drawn to anything Celtic, mythical, paranormal and romantic. I also love genealogy and history and I have tried to combine all these elements into my books in effort to give the reader a ride they wont forget. I want to make them worry, startle, smile and cry, and, hopefully, leave them wanting more.

How does my writing process work?

My novels start with a character, a location, and a general idea of how it will end. I open the computer, close my eyes and let the book play out as a movie in my mind. I then type what I saw.

I am far from a plotter. I begin with a scene and the ending in mind, and then try to get my characters in all kinds of drama and trouble before they reach their happy ever after. Torture is so good for them. Most of the time, by the time I reach the end, it has changed dramatically from the idea I had when I started. The characters, and plots surprise the heck out of me, and I hope my readers as well.

I guess I shall compare my writing process to a tornado as they are weighing heavy on my mind today. I have a central point and my characters, plot twists, and locations get sucked into the vortex until they blow into a story. I then take everything that’s landed and clean it up.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little more. The blog tour continues with a wonderful author, and friend…

Maureen Bonatch, she will be posting on May 5, 2014. Be sure to check her out.


Remember, let me know how weather affects your writing!



Temperate rainforest…

I had to reblog this as Pucks Glen, Argyll, Scotland is where part of my novel, Protect Her takes place. These are gorgeous pictures.

this fragile tent

water falling, pucks glen

It stopped raining so we went off into the forest, getting some air before the arrival of guests who will be with us for New Year.

It is only a slight exageration to suggest that the forests of Argyll are part of the fragments of temperate rainforest left in northern Europe. Huge old trees in a sponge of moss and leaf mulch, well watered by the western Scottish climate.

As ever, my camera came along. I think I have a million photos of some of these places- searching for the play of light and the movement of water. I never quite manage it but some come close.

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Do You Remember? 3 is a Magic Number!

I was conversing with an editor I know online about how I tend to use a lot of words/actions in threes in my writing.  It is actually a good thing to do. Three’s make more of an impression to the reader.  You create tension, build it up, and finally release it.  It rolls off the tongue easily, and things tend to be remembered better if grouped in three.

I joked about how three is a magic number, no more, no less, it’s a magic number with this editor, and she had no idea what I was talking about.

3 is a magic number
Click picture to see video

I explained about Schoolhouse Rock, mentioned Conjunction Junction, and still…no recognition.  I grew up on those videos and still find myself singing them.

My question to you is…

Do you remember?

Please leave a comment if you do, and let me know your favorite.

Golden Claddagh Writing Contest


Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest:

The Golden Cladddagh!


CHRW header large3





It’s not too late! You have until May 10th, 2014 before we close for entries. Unpublished and Published authors can enter with an unpublished WIP that has not been contracted. 

 Get details and entry form HERE.


What is a Gold Claddagh, you ask?



Find the answer HERE.


Below are the guidelines and rules for submission entry.


So sit down at your desk and polish up those first 30 pages!






Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddagh!

We have four categories for unpublished authors and published authors withunpublished  manuscripts.

* Historical
* Fantasy-Futuristic-Paranormal
* Contemporary
* Young Adult/New Adult

Our contest due date is May 10th. Finalists will be notified by June 15th and winners notified by August 1st–Winners will be announced at the CHRW Annual General Meeting at RWA National Convention in San Antonio, TX in July 2014.


The competition is open to RWA members ONLY.

Manuscripts must be unpublished and un-contracted in any form, including self-publishing. The manuscript rights must belong to the author and be available to contract, should a final judge wish to offer publication.

The GC entry must be a full-length novel (more than 40K). Novellas or Short stories will not be accepted.

Manuscripts must be completed by the time results are returned. Entrant must retain all rights to the entry and not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party by the contest entry deadline.

If your manuscript is accepted for publication during the time of our contest (dates will be specified) you must notify the contest coordinator; your submission(s) will be withdrawn from consideration and your entry fee(s) returned.

Please Note:

  • Previously entered manuscripts may be entered again, but no previous winningmanuscript shall be re-entered, even if revised.
  • You may submit multiple entries so long as you pay an entry fee and submit a completed entry form for each submission.
  • You may not enter the same manuscript in more than one category. *Entry fee per entry: $10.00 CHRW members and $15.00 non-member CHRWA members.

CHRW reserves the right to discard all electronic entries and return fees if a minimum number of three (3) entries are not received in any category. Entrants will be contacted before the entries are returned and given the option to place their entry in another category if it is eligible. We may also refuse an entry that does not follow the rules stated here in the guidelines.

All Payments are Electronic through PayPal. The easy link is here:

If you wish to go directly to PayPal, please use Paypal address:

Entry fee: $10.00 CHRW members and $15.00 non-member CHRWA members.

All entries will be read and scored for the first round by two trained judges and one published author, and the lowest score dropped. The three entries with the highest total scores in each category will move to the final round. An editor/agent will judge the final round and select a winner from the finalists in each category.


Future, Fantasy & Paranormal: Romance novel where the mains focus is on the romantic relationship, but the future, fantasy or paranormal elements are integral to the story (includes time-travel).

Contemporary: Includes, single title, long and short romantic fiction with a contemporary setting set after 1945. Main focus is the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.

Historical: Romance novel set primarily before 1945 — any location. Please specify your time period and setting in your entry.

Young Adult/New Adult:  Romance novels in which young adult or new adult themes constitute an integral part of the plot. *Romance subplot not required*



Entry Composition: No Synopsis required! Your entry must have the following:

1.     An email “cover page” which includes the author’s real name, address, telephone number(s), e-mail address, submission title, category, manuscript word count and PayPal confirmation # should be submitted in text of the e-mail. Do not include the cover page in the same attachment as your manuscript.

2.     The beginning of your manuscript, including prologue, cannot exceed thirty (30) pages. Standard manuscript format must be followed:

  • 1 inch margins
  • Double spaced in a standard font and size 12-point.
  • The TITLE of the manuscript, the category, and any subcategory should be placed on the top left hand side of the entry. The PAGE NUMBER should be on the top right side of the entry.
  • We will not accept entries that have colored, or designer fonts. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME ON THE MANUSCRIPT.

3. Manuscript must be in a .doc or .rtf file format.

NOTE: Your entry must not exceed thirty (30) pages total.



Contemporary Category –

FFP Category –

Historical Category –

Young Adult/New Adult Category –


Final Round Judges


Angela James – Carina Press
Kerry Buckley – Carina Press


Laurie McLean – Forward Literary, Inc
Beth Miller – Writers House
Leis Pederson – Berkley Publishing


Julie Mianecki – Penguin Books
Alissa Davis – Carina Press
Elizabeth Bistrow – Penguin Books

Young Adult/New Adult

Nicole Fischer – Avon Press



The FIRST PLACE winners in each category will receive a $50 dollar cash prize and a commemorative pin.

The SECOND and THIRD PLACE winners in each category will receive free workshops through Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.


For questions please contact the contest chair, Alisa Walker at:



On Writing Strong Female Characters

Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks

harkavagrant Couldn’t resist. Copyright Kate Beaton at Hark! A Vagrant.

I have a lot of thoughts about how to write strong female characters, but first I wanted to address the idea of “strong.” For female characters, strength tends to be equated with physical prowess. Think of “strong female characters”, and most people will immediately list the Buffys and the Xenas, because they are warrior women with superior fighting skills. But in creating strong female characters, it’s also important to look beyond the physical. The Sansa Starks of fiction are not any less strong than the Arya Starks just because they can’t pick up a sword and slay their enemies. There are the Felicity Smoaks of the world who find strength in their intelligence, and the Cersei Lannisters who use manipulation and cunning to drive their enemies to their knees.

To quote Neil Gaiman on this subject:

The glory of Buffy is…

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Monday Musing: Getting Out Of Your Own Head


no gif

A writer’s brain is a crazy thing.  It allows you to come up with beautiful words and worlds. Where once there was a blank page, an hour later a concrete story can be forming that will transport a reader to another time and place. It really is amazing what happens once that creativity is unleashed.

While there is a certain sense of joy and satisfaction from creating a new tale, the writer brain can also hold us back. Being creative is one thing, sharing that creativity can be another animal entirely.

See, here’s the thing. The story feels safe as long as it’s sitting on your hard drive, locked away only for you (and perhaps a few trusted readers) to enjoy. But when you’re done with that manuscript, you’re supposed to push it out into the world. Share it with the masses and hope they love your work. That’s why writers write, for…

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Lessons from Oleander–The Dangers of Premature Editing

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Please don't kill me. Please don’t kill me.

I love to garden, but I am terrible at reading instructions, which means I am not going to read a How To book or gardening blogs, because I already have enough to read and this would steal time from my great joy…digging in the dirt. This means that, over the years, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.

Code for : Killing Stuff

Almost five years ago, we bought our first home. We got a sweet deal on it, but it needed work. The yard was little more than mowed field. I couldn’t wait to get in and pretty it up. I slaved for hours in triple-digit Texas heat digging holes and clearing land for gardens. I’d always loved oleander and when I found them on sale at the local nursery, I was ecstatic. Normally, oleander this size were over $100 but I got each…

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Promoting Yourself Through Video – Guest Post by Susan Scott Shelley

Great advice for those of you looking to make a video trailer for your book.

Think of the last movie trailer that evoked this reaction: “Wow, I’ve got to see that!”

You have the power to stir that same reaction in your current readers and potential readers. Here are three ideas: Videos showcasing the type and tone of the stories you write, book trailers, and advertisements for big contests and giveaways. Through words, excerpts, images and music, you can generate a reaction like, “Wow, this author looks amazing, I have to check him/her out…and tell my friends!”

Don’t know where to start? It’s easy! Really…I promise.

Hiring someone to create the entire video for you is one option but if you want to stretch your artistic wings, you can create the entire video on your own, you can contract out a portion, like the voice and/or video production through a freelancer site, and you can use royalty-free music and images.

Whether you use a…

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