Hearts Crossing Contest Winner Announced




Congratulations to Marianne Evans!


Her entry has been chosen as the winner of our Hearts Crossing contest. Entrants were given the cover (sans author name) along with a synopsis. As suspected, the entries we received were varied in content and scope while still adhering to the synopsis. Response to the contest was overwhelming, and the competition tough, but Marianne's romance between Collin Edwards and Daveny Montgomery stood out. Stay tuned for more info on the exact 2010 release date. You don't want to miss it!

Thanks to all entrants for making the judges' job a difficult one. We appreciate every one of you.

Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone.

Blessings,
Nicola Martinez, EiC

Research

I’ve long been a fan of American history and the Old West and enjoy reading accounts and memoirs of people from times past. Making history come alive is one of a fiction writer's jobs. Researching is easy with the Internet. Here are a few sites for other aficionados:

http://www.rarenewspapers.com/ - this is a collection of rare vintage newspapers you can buy. Although one cannot see the whole paper - typing in words such as “Mail Order Bride” or “Slave” will bring up any newspapers with those words in them. You can then read the headlines and sometimes part of the leading article. There is a nice “period” feel to the partial articles, you can see, and in fact, many of the newspapers are reasonably priced, if one wants to delve into deeper research.

http://www.nps.gov/archive/whmi/history.htm - The Whitman Mission National Historic Site. Lots of Old West Links, Oregon Trail Links, and information on missionaries who traveled West. Some information on Washington State, its archives and the Native American Indians of the area.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moagrp/ - “The Making Of America” site! The digital library of 19th century books and journals, available to read online. You can read religious tracts, temperance papers, short stories, almanacs, foreign trade, birds…it’s all here for the serious student of history. A delightful collection of papers and books.

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~hornbeck/disease.htm - Roots.web’s list of “old” diseases in alphabetical order, with explanations of their modern symptoms, causes and current names, if applicable. At the bottom of the document is a list of major epidemics and where they took place. Excellent resource for historical writers.

http://www.westernoutlaw.com/ - The Western Outlaw Lawman Association – the site has Adobe Acrobat downloadable .pdf files of some famous Western characters.

http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/WESTERN.HTM - The black experience on the Western frontier. An incredible amount of rare history, all in one place!

www.kstrom.net/isk/stars/starmenu.html - Native American Astronomy – Star Maps with their Lakota names, Lakota spirituality stories, Medicine Wheel studies.

www.ewebtribe.com/NACulture/history.htm - Important dates in Native American history. Specific information on various American Indian tribes and archeology of the Western regions.

www.archives.gov/index.html - The National Archives And Records Administration. You can search for descriptions of NARA’s nationwide holdings and view digital copies of many important documents. Photographs, paintings, documents from Susan B. Anthony’s suffrage criminal case file, files from the Rosenbergs espeionage case file, Eisenhower’s D-Day statement to the Allied Expeditionary Force, a letter from Jackie Robinson, and the authorization giving Francis Gary Powers orders for the last U-2 flight over Russia, just to name a few of the types of historical documents available.

www.lcweb.loc.gov/ - The Library Of Congress website. “Log on, play around, learn something” is their creedo. Lots of historical law documents, information on Presidential libraries, online galleries, history and culture.

lcweb2.loc.gov/wpaintro/wpahome.html - The Works Progress Adminstration’s Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1940. Type a word such as “slave” or “log cabin” into the search engine on the site, and it will upload whatever journals mention those words. An amazing collection of personal memoirs.

Manuscript formatting tips for MS Word

I see a great many manuscripts come through where some fundamental--and some more advanced--formatting techniques have not been utilized, but would greatly help the manuscript. So, today, I'm going to give a few tips on using Microsoft Word to your advantage. This will not only help you to present a great-looking manuscript to an editor, but will also help to cut down on those edits once you have a contract in hand.

The most prevalent issue I see is not using a manual page break to begin a new page. As you all know, Word automatically creates a new page when you get to the bottom of one. However, if you finish a chapter in the middle of a page, you do not need to "enter" down until a new page appears. In fact, this is the wrong way to create a new page because then, when you edit, any addition or deletion of a line here or there, will cause your new chapter to either be on a different page or to be further down/up the page than you intend. When you need to create a new page use the CTRL+enter command. This creates a manual page break--and the kind that publishers need when properly formatting. So, let's say you end chapter five and you're in the middle of a page, just hit CTRL+enter, and you'll have a fresh page ready for chapter six. If you later end up removing fourteen paragraphs from chapter five, chapter six will still begin on a separate page.

Next, the backwards apostrophe. "Go get 'em," he said. That leading apostrophe automatically wants to curl towards the E in em, but we need it to go the other direction. Instead of typing just the apostrophe and then the em, type CTRL+apostrophe+apostrophe (yes, that's the apostrophe key twice) CTRL+' ' will turn your apostrophe the other way 'round.

Finally, make sure you use em-dashes for speech cut-offs and phrase offsets. That's the long dash, not a hyphen and not the shorter en-dash. I see a goodly number of mss where an en-dash or single hyphen is used in these instances. Many Word versions will have the autocorrect set so that if you type two hyphens (--) it will automatically changed to an em-dash. If you don't have the autocorrect feature set, and either don't want to or don't know how, at the very least, type two hyphens where you want an em-dash. However, I suggest using the autocorrect feature, at least on the first draft.

Happy writing!

Conflict development: ensuring proper progression

Lately, I’ve been seeing a goodly number of manuscripts where there are conflict discrepancies. For example (Not from a ms. submitted to White Rose): Jane Heroine works for XYZ church. She’s enjoying her job and spending time with Joe Hero, another employee of the church. Then, one day—several chapters into the story—Joe Hero asks her to help him prepare a special prayer service, and Jane Heroine thinks, “I can’t do that. I had a really bad experience with church-going folks being mean to me when I was a child. Church-folk are hypocrites, God never listened to my prayers for deliverance from these people, and I quit praying a long time ago.” (Of course, if she’s painting all church-goers with the hypocrite brush, caution needs to be taken [see the previous post about heroines being heroic])

Anyway…now, you may be wondering what’s wrong with that. It makes for good conflict, the fact that a non-praying heroine has to organize a prayer meeting—and it does. This is an excellent vehicle to help her rebuild her relationship with Christ. However, there’s a major flaw here—not in the conflict, but in how the conflict has been developed. We’ve been in this story for several chapters and we’ve never heard before that the heroine doesn’t pray. In fact, the logical assumption is that she does. After all, she works for XYZ church. She doesn’t seem to have any issues with faith, so when we hear she’s had a bad experience in her backstory and mean church-goers are the catalyst for her move away from faith, we wonder, “Hmm, why is she even working for a church?” Realistically, people tend to shy away from those things that have hurt them in the past. If Jane Heroine’s experience was so bad that it caused her to make the decision not to pray, why would she take a job where she has to deal with church-folk on a regular basis?

What needs to happen here is a set-up before the “non-pray” conflict is revealed. Early in the story, we need to know that Jane Heroine took the job at the church because she lost her previous job (for example) and had to take the only thing available, and now she struggles with trying not to be judgmental towards the current church-folk, whom she logically knows are not the same people who were mean to her in her backstory. If the information is just dropped in several chapters into the story, it reads as though the author just made up the conflict on-the-fly as she was writing the scene where the hero asks for help with the prayer service—which for authors who are “pantsers” can happen. But if it does happen, be sure to go back through the early parts of the manuscript and weave in the set-up for the newly-developed conflict.

Conflict cannot be something just thrown in at any given moment. It has to be constructed in a logical sequence, hinted at, melded with character development and plot progressions. If it isn’t, it throws the reader out of the story, and then we’re sunk.

As A Woman Thinketh

Lately I’ve seen a recurring theme in some of the manuscripts I am reading. I have written about it before in the general terms, but specifics might be more helpful. Let us first start with a definition. The following description is taken from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/heroine

Her•o•ine

1. A woman noted for courage and daring action.
2. A woman noted for special achievement in a particular field.
3. The principal female character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
4. A woman possessing heroic qualities
5. A woman idealized for possessing superior qualities
6. The main female character in a novel, play, film, etc.


Romance novels take a small aspect of a person's life - the developing relationship between a man and a woman, and preserve a snapshot for others to read about.

By their nature, heroes and heroines must act with morality and ethics. This is because the reader must be endeared towards them, to identify with them, to think that in the same circumstances, the reader will act with the same character...courage, heroism and with a tough, inner sense of fair play.

Presenting your heroine in a good light is essential to that goal. The heroine can have negative emotions, but only for the right reasons. She cannot come across as holier-than-thou, prissy, or uppity. Although actions speak louder than words, much of the building of character takes place in the heroine's point-of-view - her thinking.

If she thinks the hero is rude, crude and undignified, this speaks more about her assumptions than it does about the hero. She is judging, usually without basis, in the manuscripts I've been reading. I've read about heroines who think the hero is disgusting (author's word), who thinks the hero needs a lesson with a 2 X 4 board (author's words), and who think the hero should have some form of physical punishment (again, author's words). These are not the thoughts of a heroine. They are judgments, and demeaning ones, at that. Physical violence in a Christian novel is not acceptable, even in thought, unless it happens to be in the villian's POV, and then it needs to be handled delicately, too.

Another thing I am seeing pertaining to the heroine is smirking, glaring, hissing, and so on, directed at the hero. Using negative verb action to imply conflict isn't heroic. Conflict is not simply acting mad at the hero. There should be a deep emotional context in which it is used, a life-changing instance in which all the heroine thought was right is turned upside down. Smirking at a less-than-stellar hero isn't conflict - it smacks of making fun of him. The subliminal connotation then becomes different - a hero who can be made fun of comes across as a weak in some way, and not deserving of respect.

Use positive verbs, feelings and emotions to show your heroine's moral and ethical dilemmas. She can act negatively, but it must be for a serious reason and there must be consequences to her actions. She can be a poor, lonely orphan forced to steal...but only because she has to feed younger siblings. She can be a glamorous movie star, faced with the horror of war, and being grossed out at the loss of life and limb, but she has to overcome to be an angel of mercy. A weak stomach and terrifying thoughts are okay, but with it needs to come strength of character and a resolve to change her situation in a proactive way. Do not use negative connotations carelessly. Craft your heroine with care.

Covert Emotion/Building Character

I am a character-driven editor – give me a good, solid character and you will grab my attention from the beginning of your novel.

How can you build character with covert emotions?

By allowing the hero/heroine to respond without consciously thinking about what is happening around them. When people think on purpose, it means they are conscious of the end goal. But the thoughts that come unbidden reveal a truer character.

Jim saw the accident and screeched to a halt, shaken from the resounding crash in front of him as two cars collided.

The sentence is too long. Too much information is loaded and it loses impact. Also, note that Jim is shaken. There is nothing wrong with being shaken, but in this case, the subliminal message is that Jim is weak. When crafting a hero, you do not want him to appear weak. Heroes can cry, they can be shaken up, but you have to use the context carefully to allow them to remain courageous, strong and prepared for any situation.

Screeching to a halt, Jim jumped out of his car and ran to the smoking wreck. Look for survivors!

Here is the almost identical sentence, using some of the same words. However, now we’ve implied a man who takes immediate action. The emotion is covert. Jim is responding. Not only that, he is subconsciously thinking about what to do. He is trying to solve the problem (look for/save the survivors).

As yet, Jim hasn’t spoken a word, yet his character is being built in the second instance. A man who takes action. A man who thinks of others…qualities a hero can have. The reader is now engaged. They want to know more about this man. Is this the hero? Curiosity is making them turn the page.

Consider your hero/heroine’s actions and his/her subliminal clues that impart knowledge of their character. Work your words to imply covert emotions, actions and intent. The result will be strong, likeable people who jump from the page and feel real to your readers.

Developing Relationship

In romance, the paramount part of the story is developing a relationship. Hero and heroine should meet quickly, have an emotional reaction to each other, and create the capacity to further the relationship in a romantic way.

Thirty pages of the heroine’s or hero’s past, told from her/his own and others’ points of view, is not developing the relationship. Backstory has no impact. Backstory is the past, always static and never changing. It is also simply a passive retelling of events. And remember, romantic fiction works better when you show, don’t tell.

Start the story where the hero and heroine meet. Establish an emotional bond as quickly as possible. A physical bond, such as noting the other’s attractiveness, is an okay start, but by delving straight into emotion, the bond is stronger and the reader begins to identify with the protagonists much quicker.

Spend the rest of the novel keeping the hero and heroine together as much as possible. Find reasons for them to meet, whether by accident or design. Play up each meeting with emotional impact – what they are feeling, rather than what they are seeing. As I’ve noted in other articles, a good way to do this is to pretend your character is blind, and then use the remaining senses to tell the reader about that character.

“Merry Christmas!” Jeanie moved towards the door, pulling her scarf tighter against the chill outside. Stepping out into the crisp winter day, she sighed with delight. “Oh!”
“Pretty, isn’t it?” Jarrod Smith stepped forward, a brightly colored shopping bag in his hand.
“It’s like a Christmas card.” The scent of cinnamon wafted from the bakery next door. She looked up at him, noting his eyelashes were coated with snowflakes as he lifted his face into the sky.
“This is my favorite time of year.” His laugh was infectious and she joined in.
“Mine, too!”
“I love the smells, I love watching people scurry about, although I’m not too fond of shoveling the wet stuff.” He grinned. “Listen!”
Then she heard it. Bells jingled as two horses came dancing down the street, pulling a small sleigh.
“Want to go on a sleigh ride?” He didn’t wait for her answer. He grabbed her mittened fingers and ran across the street. Jeanie felt warm hands around her waist as he lifted her into the seat.
“Hot cider in the thermos, warm cookies in the insulated bag.” The driver pointed as they snuggled under a wool blanket.
As the bells rang and the snow fell, Jarrod leaned close and gently kissed Jeanie, tasting of cider and sugar cookies.


Even though no descriptions of the actual characters are used, the reader gets an implied sense of character from how the protagonists are reacting to the various stimuli around them. Jarrod is fun-loving, spontaneous and interested in Jeanie. Jeanie is polite, yet adventurous. Both are observant and Jeanie is making memories in her mind. All those subliminal messages are picked up by the reader, placing them not only in the scene, but making them enjoy it. This allows the reader to identify with the characters even more.

Refrain from introducing a third character who describes or spends time listing all the hero or heroine’s attributes. Not only does this detract from the developing romance by putting a “three’s a crowd” aspect into the novel, but it is telling, rather than showing.

You can write a little bit of the past into the hero and heroine’s point-of-view, but only if it pertains to the developing relationship. Perhaps the hero has a small child. He can let the heroine know he adopted the child while he was overseas, or his wife ran off or died. A few paragraphs are the limit of what is needed to explain to both the heroine and the reader. The wife doesn’t even need to be named, she is non-essential to the developing relationship.

What happens in the here and now is where your hero and heroine should be. The present. Not the past. Show, don’t tell. Make your readers remember the characters long after the story is finished. Give your hero and heroine a future, a Happy Ever After.

Editing the Middle

I see a lot of stories that start out showing potential--more than potential, in fact; I'm intrigued. The first page is a doozy, it's grabbed me with some awesome action, or intrigued me with a hint of some mystery or conflict to come, and I can't wait to read more. (These are the kinds of submissions I like to see, BTW). And then all of a sudden, I get to page 40, and things begin to unravel. The rate of unravelling varies from story to story. Sometimes, by page 45, I'm ready to throw in the towel; sometimes, it takes a little longer--maybe to page 100 or 150. . .and I can tell you, it's devastating.

Rejecting a manuscript is the worst thing I have to do as an editor. I know authors have worked long and hard on their manuscripts, and they have a dream that my rejection is going to shoot down. But, I also have a responsibilty to the authors I do contract and to readers who purchase White Rose Publishing books, to uphold a strong standard, so when stories fall apart, I have no choice but to say no.

So, today I'm here to say, make sure your stories don't fall apart. Easier said than done, I know. The problem is, I think, that those first three chapters--50 pages, or so--get edited, and edited, and edited. Every time an editor requests them, the author makes one more run-through before sending it in. Crit partners go over them. Family members take one last look. But chapters four through the end get edited twice or thrice.

We need not to ignore the middle. This is where plots need the extra attention. Look at the conflicts that have been established early on. Do they sustain through the middle with a heightened degree of emotion? If so, great! If not, figure out a secondary conflict to introduce partway through so that the middle progresses, climbs to the ultimate point of no return.

Look at dialogue. Are we filling our characters' mouths with fluff just to get to the point where our climax is going to happen and we know the reader is going to finally say, "Wow"? If so, silence those characters and think of something worthwhile for them to say. Dialogue needs to drive the plot forward, not merely act as a bridge to get us from point A to point B. It needs to create or ease tension, initiate understanding or misunderstanding, eliminate clues or create red herrings. All dialogue should have a purpose that moves the characters forward.

Look at interior dialogue. Are our characters repeating sentiments that we've heard so many times over the past 100 pages that hearing them one more time makes us want to take the mallet out of the author's hand and put it to our own heads? If so, cut it. If the story becomes too short later, find better ways to add to word count. Don't fluff the middle, fortify it with substance. Interior dialogue needs to show that our characters are growing and changing. They had a problem at the beginning of the book, and that problem may not yet be solved, but our characters should have learned something over the course of the opening chapters that help him/her to grow or to find a workable solution.

If you look at a scene and can't see its purpose, the scene doesn't need to be there. Cut it. It may hurt, but think of it as the refining fire. Once all the impurities are stripped away, the story will shine with a brilliance that will dazzle editors and readers alike.

Show, don't tell...

Show, don’t tell.

How many times have you seen that written in a rejection you’ve received? What does it mean?

When an editor asks for show, we’re basically asking an author to allow the reader to be a “fly on the wall” observing the story as it unfolds.

Readers can’t “see” the past life of the hero or heroine. Since a story is mostly written in present tense, the past is gone, and cannot be shown. Therefore, it can only be told. It is essentially set in stone. A little bit of telling is okay in a story, but since it is past, it is also stagnant, and has no possibility of change. An example of telling:

Henry always thought the moon was made of charcoal. As a young boy, he figured that God had simply lit a big fire when He said, “let there be light,” and then tossed one of the spent, ashy gray briquettes out into the night sky. It never occurred to him to wonder how God started the fire.

An author should tell only enough to bring the hero and heroine to the present point of meeting, and then drop the past. Present and future tense offer the possibility of change – the hero can get the girl, the lost cause may not be so lost, the possibility of resolution and a happy-ever-after is active and ever present in the back of the reader’s mind. They read in hope of seeing the characters resolve the difficulties, and then resume the life they are supposed to have in the future.

The author’s task is to unfold impossible odds, and make them possible. As the story is written the author should be revealing the layers of the hero and heroine’s characters, their reactions to the plot that surrounds them, and the way the characters solve the issues to bring forth that Happy-Ever-After.

Show the hero and heroine actively trying to get together, learning about each other and ultimately, being together. Don’t let their feelings stagnate while you tell about something in their pasts, instead, bring it forward, such as this example:

“I remember when I was little, I thought the moon was made of burnt charcoal.” Henry smiled at Vanessa as he slipped an arm around her shoulders.
“Because of the glow?”
“No, because of the ashy, gray color. I thought God lit a fire and tossed one spent briquette into the night sky.”
“I guess that’s not any funnier than the story behind Orion’s Belt or Osiris.” Vanessa snuggled in closer. “Of course, that begs the question, where did God get the charcoal briquettes?”
“You know, I’ve never though of that.” Henry looked at her, bemused. “I guess I thought God got the same kind of bag at the grocery store that my Dad bought every time we had a barbeque.”
“Did I ever tell you your mind moves in mysterious ways, Henry?”


See how the past was introduced in the present? Note also that you are building character. Henry feels comfortable enough to slip an arm around Vanessa, and she is comfortable enough to snuggle in. So…they like each other. The conversation is silly, but the underlying meaning is revealed to us as implication – they are flirting, tucked in together, enjoying a lover’s moon. Game, set, match.

Activate your characters. Give them the present, and the future. Show, don’t tell.

Editing tip: Keeping track of POV

A year or so ago I wrote up a little article that gave some tips on how to spot errors in your manuscript during the editing process. Today, I have another. One problem that I often find in manuscripts is an out-of-place POV (point-of-view) switch. I’m not talking about continuous head-hopping, just a sentence of an alternate character’s POV plugged in where it shouldn’t be. Most authors know not to do this, but sometimes a line or two will slip in as we’re writing our first draft because we’re in the heat of the scene and recording everything that pops into our heads. The trick is to catch those on the re-read—and the problem arises when we stop our editing session, or get distracted, right before one of these erroneous sentences, and then pick up later. It’s a perfect formula for us miss seeing it as the wrong POV.

So, a tip to help you remember who’s POV you’re in: Colour-code your manuscript. If you like, you can do it as you’re writing. If you’re doing it this way, choose different font colours for each POV Character, and then on the edit read-through, you’ll know by the colour whose head you’re supposed to be in and if you come to a sentence that isn’t in the right “colour’s” POV, edit or delete.

If you don’t want to use different font colours as you write, colour code your manuscript right before you edit. This may sound difficult, but since most POV switches are offset by scene breaks, you can easily see where the breaks are. Highlight each break/POV in a different colour. Then, when you fall asleep editing at 1 a.m., and have to pick it up the next day, you won’t have to remember, or go back and re-read to know whose POV you’re in.

Consider Your Reader

One of the hardest issues confronting writers today is our audience. They are, at the same time, our biggest fans, and our harshest critics.

As Christians, we each have a mission in life. We are to love God and keep his commandments. Two of his commandments are to use our talents wisely, and to spread The Word.

We, as writers, may not go out preaching on the mountaintops or from a pulpit, but our words reach people, nonetheless. We do not know where our books will end up. When that book is left on a bus, and a troubled teen picks it up, or when it is shared with a friend who needs to feel hope, or when it bridges the generations because your Mom is so proud she sees you in a different light and becomes your biggest fan – you’ve touched hearts. And implicitly, so has God.

Each of our books should carry the Message, words of hope, words of joy, words of gold. Infuse your characters with the God you know.

Do not be afraid to confront the troubles of the secular world in your books. Reach for the angst to create the tribulations for your characters, and then solve their problems with God’s touch.

Christian Inspirational fiction is one of the fastest growing markets today. People are tired of books that depict worldly matters with all the angst, all the temptations, all the depravations…and no hope.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

When writing, give a voice to the voiceless. Lend your talents to the troubled. Create trials for your hero and heroine to overcome. And then, let God give them hope and a future.

Creating a Realistically Flawed Christian Hero

This week, Senior Editor Jamie West, gave some wonderful insight into creating characters. Today, I want to take that a step further. I’m focusing on the hero, but the concept applies to heroines as well.


I see a great number of manuscripts where the author wants her hero to be highly flawed at the beginning of the story, and redeemed by the end (Whether he’s Christian all the way through the story or becomes a Christian partway through). Nothing wrong with that. It’s basically every Christian’s faith journey. But, oftentimes, in an author’s zeal to flaw a hero, she makes him un-heroic in the process. Heroes cannot be un-heroic; it's an oxymoron of gargantuan proportions.


The key is to make our hero flawed without having him make any un-heroic decisions. Let’s take a look at some examples of how to tweak a plot or character action so that we convey the flawed nature without putting the reader off our hero.


Here’s a common tale as a setting: The hero is a ruthless business man—a real estate developer, let’s say. He’s notorious for buying up old apartment buildings, putting the tenants out on the street, and then building high-rise office complexes that have made him a millionaire. He has no regard for the human person and looks only at the business side of every deal. We want him to meet the heroine, learn the error of his ways, find Christ, and to live happily-ever-after. He’s not a Christian at the opening of our tale, so it doesn’t really matter what he does because, he’s not bound by Christian morality...


Wrong! It does matter. Let’s see why.


We open our story (a story I will preface with the disclaimer that it’s a first-draft, off-the-top-of-my-head example and should not be taken as an example of a saleable piece of fiction :) …We open our story with the hero on the telephone telling his foreman to arrange for the eviction of a little old lady who lives on a pension, along with a single mother who has two small children and who works two jobs just to pay the rent-controlled rent each month, and an ex-con who we find out was wrongly-convicted and is just trying to put the pieces of his life back together. Joe Hero is ruthless. He’s mean. He’s screaming over the phone as the heroine stands at the threshold to his office waiting for him to sign some important documents that she’s couriered over for her employer. ..

----------------------------

Jane froze in the doorway. She’d heard of Joe Hero’s reputation—he didn’t care one whit about anything unless it came printed in green and featured a dead president’s picture. She hadn’t wanted to believe the rumours she’d heard. She’d had a crush on him ever since she’d seen his expose in Cityscape Magazine two years ago, and she didn’t want to believe anyone so beautiful on the outside could be so hideous on the inside. But as she listened to him on the phone, she had to believe.


“I don’t care about anyone’s sob story,” Joe Hero said into the phone. “They’ve all had two weeks to find somewhere else to live. Send the sheriff, if you have to.” He glanced up at her and rolled his eyes. “I don’t care how old she is. I don’t care if she has to live in the carpet bag with 'everything she owns.' Get her out of there. As for the other woman, if she can’t afford to keep her kids, maybe she shouldn’t have had them in the first place. Give her the number to that adoption agency on High Street.” He slammed down the receiver and waved her in.


Reluctantly, she approached the desk and handed him the papers.


He shook his head as he signed them. “I don’t understand people today. It’s not my fault these people can’t hold down a decent job or have such lousy credit they can’t let an apartment. Everyone expects a hand-out.”


“Maybe they can’t help it,” she offered, unsure why she’d even spoken.


“Sure they can’t. I’ve worked my entire life for what I have. If others would do the same, they’d ‘have’ also.” He smiled. “Guess they know who’s boss now, huh?”…


She stood there stunned, unable to reply. How could she? She was devastated. How could he? He actually liked kicking people when they were down. The rumours were true…

----------------------------

So, what we have here is a flawed hero. He’s going to learn the error of his ways--at least that's the author's plan, But, we’ve just seen him evict some people without any regard—and, he enjoyed it. Readers are not going to want this man to be the hero. It doesn’t matter if he’s redeemed by the end of the book. Most readers won’t get that far because after an opening like this, they are rooting against him. It doesn't matter what he does. In the reader's mind, he's a villain, not a hero.


Now, let’s take the same premise—same scene, even—and change it a little.

----------------------------

“Tell them they have until the end of the week, but that’s all I can do.” Joe Hero sighed and thought about the million-dollar deal that meant his company wouldn’t have to claim bankruptcy. JH Construction might have been the commercial builder of the year fourteen years running, but the economy had hit them hard. He had to get that building down and the new complex up. It wasn’t his fault the tenants hadn’t been able to find new homes. Surely Henry knew that. “No,” he told his foreman again. “This week. We have to break ground next week or it’s going to cost us a hundred K a day.”


He looked up to see a woman standing in the doorway to his office. He shot her an apologetic smile and rolled his eyes, pointing to the phone. She gave him a tentative smile back.


“Kids or no, Henry, they have to go.” He sighed again. He hated being the bad guy, but someone had to make the tough decisions, and since he had the reputation for being ruthless, the bad guy was usually him.


With no more protests coming from his foreman, Joe hung up the phone and waved in the petite brunette who still adorned his threshold. He didn’t think his doorway had ever looked so good.


She walked to the desk and handed him an envelope from Peter Jacobs & Sons. The papers he’d been waiting for. He smiled at her and motioned to the phone with a tilt of his head. “Sorry about that. I wouldn’t have been off sooner, but some people won’t take no for an answer.”


“Trouble, huh?” she mumbled as if she wasn’t sure she should speak.


He got that a lot. Most people were afraid of him. It irritated him a little, but he supposed he could understand it. There had been a time when he was so ruthless he would have put his own mother out on the street if it meant a lucrative build. But then Carla had happened, and he'd learned a few lessons about ruthlessness that had opened his eyes.


"Just some tenants who can’t find a new place and want me to postpone knocking down a building. Can’t bow to every request, though, or projects would never get finished.” He sounded so cold, but he wasn’t about to go into detail about why his timeline was so critical—with anyone, let alone a letter courier he’d never met, even if she did have the most compelling eyes he’d ever seen. Something about her actually made him want to tell her things she had no business knowing….

----------------------------

Now, we have ruthless Joe Hero. He’s still evicting those people, and from the limited info he’s told Jane Heroine, she can go away thinking he’s ruthless (thus keeping part of our conflict intact). But, we have a sympathetic hero. He’s misunderstood. Oh, he was actually ruthless in the past, and that “habit” is sure to pull him back at times throughout the story—that’s how we’ll show his redemption process. He’ll get angry or frustrated and say something he doesn’t really mean, but because the reader is already rooting for him to succeed—because he hasn’t actually done anything, or told someone else to do something, wrong (acted un-heroically), and because he's misunderstood—the reader will forgive him and he’ll still be hero material.


The key to creating a hero who is flawed but remains heroic is to make his un-heroic acts either backstory to where when the story opens, he’s already on the path to redemption; “force” his hand by some believable conflict he can’t get out of, but make him immediately remorseful and on the path to trying to reverse the effects of his ill decision; or to make his un-heroism something that is completely misunderstood by the other characters in the story, and well-known to the reader to be a misunderstanding. If the reader thinks for one minute that Joe Hero is actually un-heroic, then he can’t be the hero. Period.


So, keep your hero’s mind out of the gutter, his heart on unselfish acts, and his actions towards the heroine always gentlemanly. Any un-heroism has to be “off-camera” so that all we see of Joe Hero on the page is an actual hero—albeit a “hero in progress.”

Character & Destiny

Proverbs 23:7 - "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."

The verse above is a powerful statement of the mind. What it speaks of is character. Character is the essence of a person’s heart. When writing, character is what sets the hero and heroine apart from others.

We use the terms, hero and heroine, because all the good can be written into a protagonist with a story to tell. But how do we get there?

We must first start within the thoughts of our hero and heroine. What do they each think in the privacy of their thoughts? Are they constantly striving to better themselves? Do they hope, dream and look for ways to resolve issues? When they see a hurt puppy, do they try to help? When they see a child fall down on a bike, do they rush over to see if he is OK? When they see an old person struggling to open a door with a Bible in one hand and a cane in the other, do they help? Do they think it is the right thing to do when no one is around to question? Setting up our hero/heroine to think and do acts of kindness without forethought is one way to instill them with character. The foundation is laid. Now, when they move on to larger dilemmas that require more thought, the reader will see if they fall back on the previous heroic kindnesses that promise more insight.

Sow a thought and reap an act;

Once our hero and heroine have determined a course of action, do they act? Do they physically get up and take action against wrongdoing? Do they do the right thing in the face of danger, fear, and distress? Do they do the right thing even when it’s boring, and without reward? Do they do the right thing when no one is looking?

Sow an act and reap a habit;

Habits are ways in which people cope with what they consider ordinary. Just as a smoker feels compelled to light up a cigarette, so characters must be compelled to believe their habits have meaning. With a Christian character, it should be habitual for them to look to God first when life overwhelms. And in some aspects of their thoughts, the hero/heroine must have an almost lackadaisical attitude. It should be habitual that they help hurt puppies, fallen children and old ladies. It should be habitual that they ask for deliverance. There should be no question, no thought in their minds to do otherwise. It is habit. Good habits begat good characters. Even when the going gets tough, our hero and heroine can fall back on their good habits.

Sow a habit and reap a character;

When good habits abound in thought, word and deed, the character shines. This is a person whom a reader will want to know. When circumstances put our hero/heroine in a bad situation, they must rely on the habits of a lifetime to continue down the road to resolution. They must rely on their kindnesses, their acts and their habits, to deal with the situation in manner consistent with the character we have established earlier in the story.

Sow a character and reap a destiny.

The characters are set. Now, the situation is ready to be introduced. It is here that the character will come against a problem that will shake the foundation of all he/she holds dear. Will they allow it to overcome? Will they draw on the power of their minds, act on the decision, react with the strength of their habits, and learn their abilities can equal the task? Will they take a stand to control of their own fate, and seal their destiny?

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."

We must sow our words wisely. Strengthen our characters to respond with kindness, mercy, grace and vigilance. Build a strong foundation, and then rest our characters against it when they must deal with crisis.

Irritate the Devil?

When my kids were young (well, they're still pretty young, but, you know...) When my kids were growing up, I always encouraged them to put God first in their lives. When He's first, life is good--even when it's a tornado. So, to illustrate my meaning, I always told them, "Just remember, your goal in life is to irritate the devil." (because, don't kids love to irritate people? :) )

They would say, "Irritate the devil?"

"Yes," I would tell them. And then, of course, I would elaborate.

You see, Satan would like nothing more than to see Christians lose sight of Christ, and for non-Christians never to find Him; so when we stay close to Christ, it irritates the devil. When we evangelize--whether in word or deed--and people are uplifted and see a glimpse of Christ through our actions, it irritates the devil. (It irritates him even more when they fully convert because of it. ;) ) Every moment someone spends thinking about Christ, helping another in His Name, rather than thinking on worldly things or doing something selfish...that's right; it irritates the devil.

I woke up this morning thinking about this, and then I logged onto the email and read some emails about a prayer chain our White Rose readers' loop began. Not only was I touched by the faith and fellowship it took to begin this prayer, not to mention the prayers I found there for me and White Rose Publishing, the timing of it all brought a smile to my lips, because, my goal with White Rose is to irritate the devil--a lot! :) (And, it's going to take a lot of prayer because, when the devil gets irritated, he tends to go to battle. Ah, c'est la vie.)

We have a very special group of authors, editors and readers, and I am blessed just to be associated with them. Together we are going to entertain readers with quality stories and a great-looking product, and we are also going to show Christ through our written words. Our characters are going to be three-dimensional people to whom readers can relate, and how our characters overcome their struggles is going to drive home the need for people to know Christ, to love Him, and to understand that mountains become hills, and hills become speed-bumps, for those who trust in Him. All that, and we're not going to be preachy or didactic.

Sound like a big job? How are we going accomplish this, perhaps seemingly unsurmountable job? Well, I have some ideas, but I don't have all the answers...but guess what? I know Someone who does...and that's a little irritating to (shh! someone else who's been mentioned enough in this post already. ;) )

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Nicola

New Release: Child of My Heart




This week, we're honoured to welcome Merry Stahel. Child of My Heart is Merry's first White Rose Publishing release, and she brings us a unique tale of sacrificial love...

Hannah didn’t expect to be raising her mother’s surrogate child. But Baby Seth’s parents also died, and he has no one else...Until Uncle Aaron shows up, demanding that Hannah give up her half-brother to his family, since genetically, Seth is their son.


Can the love of one tiny baby unite two families?

Our Cup Runneth Over contest details

Each week, over the next several weeks, you will have the chance to win free e-books courtesy of the White Rose Publishing authors.

How? By joining our scavenger hunt. Each Saturday two to three new author’s web-sites will be added to this blog. What your job is to locate the WHITE ROSE PUBLISHING cup hiding somewhere on their site. Jot down the author’s name and what color cup is on their web page and e-mail the correct answers to carolann.erhardt@gmail.com (Please place in the subject line WRiB Contest) Each Saturday, starting September 19th, a winner’s name will be drawn and your prize will be awarded.

But that’s not all, each time that you send in an entry—regardless if you win that week or not--your name goes into a larger kitty for the grand prize drawing October 31st! (That prize consists of: seven e-books, a box of White Rose Organic tea, your very own beautiful White Rose mug, and a little basket of Arbonne skin care products.)

Check the White Roses in Bloom blog for sites and prizes.

Once Upon a Collar FREE READ Released

We've been talking a lot over the past few months about our FREE serialized novella, Once Upon a Collar, by talented Teri Wilson. Well, the time is here! The serial is launched. Click on the cover and join our readers' group today. Don't miss out of this great free read!


Whenever Emilie Bonner meets a man,
she can’t help but imagine what he would look like on top of a wedding cake.
Since she spends most of her waking hours designing wedding cake toppers, it’s somewhat of an occupational hazard.

Somewhere along the way—perhaps after the first two hundred or so—hand-crafted bridegrooms, Emilie begins to doubt she’ll ever find her own happily-ever-after.

Then, after a mysterious encounter with a woman who could be an angel,
Emilie meets a handsome stranger at the dog park.

At first, it seems as though Matt, with his big dopey dog and irrepressible charm,
is the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for.
Not only is he a sweetheart, but he’d look great on top of a wedding cake.

Soon, however, she discovers something about him that changes everything and leaves her wondering…does God believe in fairy tales?

Submission Guidelines...What's the big deal?

Every now and again, I find it necessary to talk about how important it is to follow submission guidelines. Today is one of those days. (And, if you've sent in a submission today, I haven't looked at any submissions yet today, so I don't want anyone to take this personally. This post arises out of a conversation I recently had with another editor.)

Publishers post submission guidelines for a reason, and that reason is not to make a person jump through hoops like some kind of circus animal. Guidelines are in place for several reasons, and none of them center on the amusement of the editor. Let's take a look at some of the real reasons guidelines are in place:

  • One, the content. Each publisher has decided on what genres, venues, etc. to focus, and all books we publish have to fall into those categories. It's what the readers of our novels expect to see. As a consumer, if you went to a romance publisher, purchased a book, and discovered it was actually a non-fiction, self-help, you'd be pretty upset--even if it was the best self-help book you'd ever seen. Not so drastically, if you expected a mystery and got a romance, you'd be just as upset. So, once a publisher has set up a content guideline, those are the only types of books we want to see. Anything else submitted is a waste of the author's time, and the publisher's time, because the author is waiting for a response that is sure to be a rejection, and the publisher has to take the time to reject it amidst all the other prospective manuscripts that come in. And believe me, even a small publisher has many submissions to consider. So, submitting something that doesn't adhere to the content guideline is just frustrating for everyone.


  • Two, the word count. Each publisher has a word count range. White Rose Publishing's word count is vast (between 7500 and 100,000). What that means is, if your story is 6000 words, it's too short, and if your story is 105,000 words, it's too long. Word count guidelines are in place for a reason, and it's not because we put random numbers into a hat and drew blindfolded to determine what we would publish. Word count guidelines are in place based on cost, saleablilty, and production streamlining. COST: More words means more pages. More pages means higher print cost. Higher print cost means higher retail price. Higher retail price means consumers may think twice about purchasing. No purchases means...well, we all know what that means. SALEABILITY: On the minimum word count side, for White Rose Publishing, we've determined that in a story shorter than 7500 words it's tough to create that emotional bond to characters that readers ultimately want, so stories less than 7500 words don't sell as well as those of 7500 words or more. In fact, we secretly prefer no less than 10,000 words (hint, hint). Does that mean that a story can't be engaging in less than 7500 words. No. Our free reads are considerably shorter than this, and they are good stories, but consumers demand something more when paying for something than they do when it's a freebie. Our short stories are only available in electronic versions, but let's look at paperbacks for a moment. The cost for printing varies based on how much paper and ink goes into any given book. A 100-page book costs a considerably different amount to print than a 400-page book. (Surprisingly, the shorter book has a higher cost ratio.) So, when a publisher says they want manuscripts that are between 80,000 and 100,000 words, they've determined that the print cost between those two word-counts (page counts ranging between approximately 320 - 400) is either the same or minimally different. Additionally, this is where PRODUCTION STREAMLINING comes into play: Any time you can create similarities and perhaps even templates into the pre-press work that has to be done, production goes more smoothly and faster. Sameness also creates easier presswork and post-press work. If a press can be set up to run the same size paper, a cutter set up to slice pages at exactly the same place each time, the binding equipment set up to work in exactly the same way each time, then production is quicker--which means it costs less. All these, are some of the reasons why word count guidelines are put into place--and why publishers won't publish things that fall outside those guidelines. So, submitting something that doesn't adhere to the word-count guideline is just frustrating for everyone.


  • Three, the interview. Your submission to a publisher is a job interview. And if you get that job--the one of being X-publisher's author--part of that job is going to entail doing edits in an efficient, accurate, and timely manner. If you can't follow the guidelines before you get the job, how are you going to follow the editor's guidelines after you get the job? Maybe you'll do just fine--and if you weren't a total stranger to us, perhaps we would take that into consideration--But, if you're a first-time author, and we don't know you from Adam, then all we have to go on is how you present yourself and respond to us when we communicate to you during that initial "interview." We want the edit process to go smoothly, without headache to either us or the author. If we even remotely think it's going to be a difficult process, your chance of getting a contract just tanked. We may ultimately take your work because it's fantastic, but it's going to have to be ultra-fantastic and already flawlessly edited. So, what are we going to do most of the time when we received something that doesn't follow a guideline? We're going to reject it outright without even looking at it, and move on to one of the many other submissions that does follow the guidelines, not because we're mean, but for all the reasons I've already discussed.


    Dear authors, this is your career you're trying to build, take the extra time and care to submit something that follows the guidelines. And in the event that you are convinced your 102,000-word story fits the publisher so well, but you've seen that the top word-count is 100,000, then mention something about it in your query, so we at least know you've read the guidelines, that you're willing to cut the manuscript if you have to. (And this will only gain credence if the overage is incidental. It is extremely difficult to cut 15,000 words out of a manuscript, so that's not going to work if you're a first-timer whose got a 115K manuscript. In that case, cut the manuscript first, and then submit.)

So, please remember, the guidelines are there for a reason. You may have a potential best-selling mystery, but we're not going to publish it, because we publish only romance. That said, we want to see your romance. Any subgenre--as long as the story is between 7500 and 100,000 words, includes a strong faith journey, and focuses on the romance. :)

Free Novella Coming Sept. 18

Hello, all! Nicola Martinez, Senior Editor here. I hope the day finds you all well. I'm excited to make the official announcement that beginning in September 18, 2009 the serialization of an entire novella, Once Upon a Collar, will be offered exclusively to members of their White Rose Publishing readers’ group. As many of you know, we've offered free “micro-reads” to the general public, for some time now--and we'll continue to do so occasionally. But did you know that we regularly release these free micro-reads to members of our readers’ group? No? Well, now you do. And, membership to the group is free, so it’s a great way to receive free reads...


Anyway, let me tell you about Once upon a Collar. Award-winning author, Teri Wilson, brings us this modern-day fairytale. I can see the eyeroll now--not another modern-day fairytale. Well, let me tell you, there is nothing cliche about this story. It is fun, romantic and an overall great read that will keep you glued from first word to last--I know it did me. If you love fairytales, dogs...ROMANCE (and who doesn't right?) join the readers’ group today by visiting our Yahoogroup. There is no charge to join, and you'll get this wonderful free novella, and periodic free micro-reads as well.



Whenever Emilie Bonner meets a man,
she can’t help but imagine what he would look like on top of a wedding cake.

Since she spends most of her waking hours designing wedding cake toppers, it’s somewhat of an occupational hazard.

Somewhere along the way—perhaps after the first two hundred or so—hand-crafted bridegrooms, Emilie begins to doubt she’ll ever find her own happily-ever-after.

Then, after a mysterious encounter with a woman who could be an angel, Emilie meets a handsome stranger at the dog park.

At first, it seems as though Matt, with his big dopey dog and irrepressible charm,
is the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for.

Not only is he a sweetheart, but he’d look great on top of a wedding cake.

Soon, however, she discovers something about him that changes everything and leaves her wondering…does God believe in fairy tales?

Spotlight on Teri Wilson

Today we get to know Teri Wilson



WRP: Have you ever won any contests? Tell us about that experience.


TW: Cup of Joe, and my current writing project, Rodeo Redemption, won first and second place in the San Antonio Romance Authors 2009 Merritt Contest. I almost didn't even enter the contest because there wasn't a category for inspirational romance. At the last minute, I decided to enter both stories in the Short Contemporary Category. Boy, was I stunned when I found out I won first and second place. Rodeo Redemption even earned the honor of Grand Prize winner across all categories of the contest. To me, this says a lot about the power of inspirational
romance to touch readers' lives!

Goldie thinks she’s prepared for the death of her doting Grandpa who’s
raised her since childhood. But after his passing, she finds herself curled up on the sofa watching television, feet clad in fuzzy slippers. She knows God has a new plan for her life, but she's simply too tired to figure out what it is.

To make matters worse, sweet, shy coffee shop owner, Joe Montgomery, keeps showing up on her doorstep with morning coffee. When she tells him emphatically she doesn’t like coffee—never has and never will—he shows up with a dog instead!

As she takes steps to start a new life, with her new puppy scampering playfully at her side, Goldie begins to realize a cup of Joe just might be what she’s needed all along.

WRP: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

TW: I don't think it's any secret that I'm an animal lover! I always have at least one animal character that plays an important role in each of my books. Usually, it's the heroine's pet. And the little critter isn't just there as window dressing - I make sure to incorporate the pet into the plot, with a very specific mission.


WRP: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

TW: Yes. God can heal your broken heart if you give Him the chance.


WRP: What makes this book special to you?

TW: Cup of Joe was written in memory of my grandpa, Robert K. Wilson. I plotted out the story for the book about a year after he passed away. The character of Goldie's grandfather is based on my own Grandpa. He loved chocolate milkshakes, dogs and hot buttered raisin toast, just like Goldie's grandfather. He didn't raise me, but he was very important to me and I'm thrilled that now my readers can get to know him a little by reading Cup of Joe.


WRP: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

TW: OK, don't laugh…I learned how to become a coffee drinker while I
wrote Cup of Joe. It's true. I somehow managed to avoid drinking coffee for my whole life until I was in the final galley stages of this book. All the drinks sounded so yummy that I just had to try a few. I guess the hero, Joe, is right. Everyone loves coffee. My favorite coffee drink is White Mocha from Starbuck's. This drink was the inspiration for the final cup of coffee Joe offers Goldie at the end of Cup of Joe.
But you'll have to read the book to see what Joe names this special beverage!


WRP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TW: The old adage "art imitates life" must be true. Or, in my case, the
reverse! I recently added a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy to my family. Her name is Bliss, just like the dog in Cup of Joe.


WRP: How can readers contact you? Do you have a website?

TW: I love to hear from readers! I can be reached through my website at
www.teriwilson.net or via email at puppylove @ satx.rr.com.



In addition to Cup of Joe, which will be released in December, Teri has penned Once Upon a Collar, an exclusive, free novella that will be serialized only on our readers' loop. Join today! It's free, so don't miss out on this modern-day fairytale that will be featured this fall.

Meet Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Today we get to know Pamela S. Thibodeaux


WRP: Where are you from?

PST: I am a native of Louisiana, born in Lake Charles I've lived in Lafayette, Houma and Sulphur but my permanent home is in Iowa where I attended school since 5th grade.


WRP: Have you ever won any contests? Tell us about that experience.

PST: Yes! As a member of Coeur de Louisianne a RWA chapter in Alexandria, Louisiana, I won the 1999 "Diamond in the Rough" and the 2000 "Ruby" awards. In 2001 I received my RWA Pro Pin.


WRP: When and why did you begin writing?

PST: I began penning stories in 5-subject notebooks while preganant with my daughter who is
now 26 and a mother of two (no, she hasn't started writing yet that I know of LOL!) I've always been an avid reader and after being disappointed one-too-many-times, I just KNEW I could do better. Turns out writing WELL is not as easy as one might think.

WRP: How many books/stories have you had published?

PST: To date I have 5 full length novels and 5 short stories published. I also have numerous
articles, essays, poems, and devotionals in various publications.


WRP: How long does it take you to write a book?

PST: On the average, a first draft takes me about 6 months to write - that is when life allows me to do so. I had one short story take nearly a year to complete LOL!

“They say that life begins at forty.”


Rebecca Sinclair rolled over and pulled the covers up to her chin. “Boy is that ever far from the truth,” she muttered, realizing that here she was on the downhill side of thirty-nine and counting the hours with dread and fear of what the next year would bring. “If this year is anything like the last one, I might not make it.”


So much had happened in one short year beginning with the death of her husband. The day started out like any other, an ordinary day in the ordinary, everyday life of Jim and Rebecca Sinclair. Only it ended far from ordinary when Jim’s car skidded off the road into a ravine. Investigations later reported that a massive heart attack and not the accident had taken his life.


She still couldn’t believe it, a heart attack. At forty-one, Jim seemed to be the picture of health. He’d always taken excellent care of himself, eating right and exercising. Work hard, play hard, and live right had been his motto, and he’d done just that. Right up to the end.


Fighting back memories and tears, Rebecca tried desperately to snuggle in the too cold bed and to concentrate on the happier times of the past when she’d looked forward to turning forty. When I turn forty, my youngest will be eighteen and out of school, and I’ll be through raising kids! How many times had she said that, laughing and carefree, looking forward to the day?

(from The Inheritance)



WRP: What is your writing schedule like?

PST: Since I work full-time, I write in the mornings and on weekends. Evenings are spent checking email, promoting or watching TV with hubby.


WRP: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

PST: Unlike many authors, I don't listen to music while I write. Instead of inspiring, songs distract me. Background noise (like the tv or radio on in another room) is ok, but I must have quiet in my office.

WRP: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

PST: Reading is still my favorite pasttime.


WRP: What does your family think of your writing?

PST: My family supports me wholeheartedly, many purchase every title.


WRP: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

PST: Nora Roberts - I love her penchant for detail and description.

WRP: Do you have any advice for other writers?

PST: Never give up! Writing is a talent and gift from God, don't bury your talent or hide your gift under a basket.


WRP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

PST: Yes, I'd love to take this opportunity to THANK each and every one of you for your love and support ~ may God continue to bless you abundantly.


WRP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PST: I'd like to take a moment to send up a special prayer of Thanks to my Lord and Saviour for the blessings in my life.


WRP: How can readers contact you? Do you have a website?

PST: Readers can contact me through my Website:

http://pamelathibodeaux.com, check out my blog:
http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com or email me at: pthib-7@centurytel.net




Purchase Pamela's Titles...
A Hero for Jessica
Cathy's Angel
Choices
The Inheritance
Winter Madness

Cadence: The Rhythm of a Story

Have you ever heard someone sing or play a song using the wrong timing or using some wrong notes? You recognize the song, even through the flaw, but the faulty rhythm is disturbing, and listening becomes an irritation rather than a joy. When the flow is off, the beauty of the music is lost. It’s the same with writing a novel. Sentence structure and verbiage are important pieces in bringing the reading experience to its full potential. The plot can be rock-solid, the characterization impeccable, the hero and heroine the type of people you root for and want to get to know, but if the cadence of the story doesn’t flow properly, it creates a niggling in the back of the mind that constantly pulls the reader out of the story.

So, what can be done to fix it? I’m sure many of you have heard the advice, “make sure you don’t have too many short sentences in a row.” (Or long ones.) And, you’ve probably been told, “If you want to pick up the pace, use short sentences.” This is all true, and it’s all part of the cadence, but there’s more to look at than just sentence length and/or how often long/short sentence appear in a row.

Paragraph length, even the number of syllables in a sentence—or how those syllables are arranged—vocabulary, and word choice, impact how a story is read. Yes, if you want a fast pace, shorter sentences create a sense of urgency and speed, but don’t forget to look at the actual words in those sentences. How are they arranged? Do they roll off the tongue (or mind) easily? Just as rhythm and meter affect music and poetry, so they do prose.

When editing for cadence, check the flow of the syllables, sentences and paragraphs. If your sentence reads with a flow of “da—ta—da—dada—ta—da—?“ what is the next logical and rhythmic step? I’ll bet the majority of you did not say, “dada.”

When your structure is out of the natural timing that the reader’s ear expects, he/she will be thrown out of the story.

“Roses are red, violets are blue. I love to write, and I know you do, also.”


Admit it, you thought, “too.” The words “also” and “too” mean the same thing. The sentence conveys exactly what it would if I had written, “Roses are red, violets are blue. I love to write, and I know you do, too.” But the mind doesn’t like “also” as much as “too” in this instance because it’s waiting for the rhyme. We’ve heard the “roses are red…” thing so often, we balk at something that sounds different. Now, don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying your sentences should rhyme, but read your work and get a feel for how it flows. At any given place, is there an instance where you think the sentence should end, but it goes on for one or two words more? Or vice-versa. Perhaps you have a sentence that ends.

…when it really should go on.

So, if you end that rhythmic phrase with a “dada” when it should be a “da,” reword or rearrange the sentences. If you really want to end with that “dada” because it creates a great hook, then change the cadence of your paragraph, so that by the time the reader gets to that final “dada,” they are ready for it.

Meet Author, Wendy Davy

Let's give a warm welcome to Wendy Davy and then settle in to get to know her a
little better.

WRP: How many books/stories have you had published?

WD: Night Waves is my third published novel. I also have two free reads available now, and a short story due to be released in February 2010.

Newspaper reporter, Cali Stevens, boldly walks into Sheriff Nick Justice’s office, with one goal in mind: To find her best friend who disappeared while vacationing. When the no-nonsense sheriff refuses to give her details of the investigation, Cali takes matters into her own hands and starts her own investigation. She never intends to fall for the sheriff…or into the clutches of the Coral Isle’s first serial kidnapper.

Coral Isle’s recnt abductions give Nick Justice enough to worry about without adding any complications into the mix, and his attraction to Cali Stevens is definitely a complication. When Nick encourages Cali to leave the island, she refuses. Now he must manage to find the missing women while keeping Cali and the rest of the women on Coral Isle safe.


WRP: How long does it take you to write a book?

WD: It takes me about four to five months to write a full length novel. Then I spend several more weeks editing. Overall, it takes about six months.

WRP: What is your writing schedule like?

WD: Crazy. I write around three kids, a husband, a dog and two cats. My quiet time is limited, so I guard it with a passion, and use it to write.

WRP: How did you come up with the title, "Night Waves"?

WD: I was vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the inspiration for the setting of my story, and I brainstormed with my friends about the plot and the best title to come up with. At the time, I was swimming in the "bean shaped pool." I wrote about in the early part of the book.

WRP: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

WD: Absolutely. So many people struggle with the issue of control, and I am one of them.
I like things to go my way, but they usually don't. Of course, that's part of life. But, I wanted to emphasize the importance of realizing God is in control, and we aren't.


WRP: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

WD: Writing the query letter and synopsis. There's always so much I want to include, it's hard for me to narrow it down to only a few pages. Also, by time I get to end of my book, I'm anxious to start on the next one, so I have to put extra effort in staying focused on my current project.


WRP: Do you have any advice for other writers?

WD: Pray first. Write next. And, never give up.




If you'd like to learn more about Wendy, visit her website at www.wendydavy.com


Purchase Wendy's titles:
Night Waves
Drake's Retreat
A Matter of Trust

What A WRP Story Is...And What It Is Not...

Rejections are difficult—for the author to receive, and also for the editor to write. Many times, an author will write a quick response thanking us for the feedback, or to let us know they will work on revisions. These emails are great. Unfortunately, there’s a flip-side to great. Sometimes we get a response where the author feels compelled to state that we have misunderstood his/her reason for writing the book. After all, he/she intended to convey a message so that readers could become better at a specific task.

Whenever I receive one of these emails, I feel the resignation that many editors feel, and the frustration that makes me go once again to check our guidelines. Yes, we editors, even though we know our guidelines well, often revisit them to be sure we’ve not given our authors a reason to write something other than what is stated.

WRP readers read romance.

We don’t sell self-help, how to get rich quick, how to meditate, how to become a nurse, how to become a millionaire, or how to become a celebrity. We don’t sell stories on when you should get life insurance, where to find a dairy farm that sells milk in glass bottles, or what portion of your paycheck should be invested in whatever investors say it should be.

WRP readers read romance.

Romance is the relationship between two people that develops when they are attracted to one another.

What romance is NOT:

Romance is not about the heroine’s complete past history all the way back to second grade and every crush she’s ever had. The heroine’s story should begin when she meets the hero. All past history that is relevant to that romance can be mentioned in a sentence or two at a time sprinkled through out the story at appropriate moments. If you need more than this, then re-evaluate what you are writing, because the heroine’s whole persona should be focused on the hero, from the first chapter to the last.

Romance is not the hero’s obsession with a particular sport, vehicle, job or hobby. The hero, from the moment he meets the heroine, should be completely focused on the heroine. You may mention his passions for other things, including the fact he’s a football player, race car driver, spy or woodworker…but even while engaged in these hobbies, he can and should be thinking about the heroine.

There can be plot devices that take their attention – and please note that I said “their.” Whatever the device is, in some way, both need to be involved. Both do not need to be the active participant in the plot device. If one is a police officer and the other is not, it is not expected that the non-officer would know the details of the officer’s job. One can simply be the observer as the other goes through the plot in an active role.

Romance is not about a secondary character. In many manuscripts I evaluate, the secondary character figures so prominently that much of the book is about that person instead of the hero and heroine. It doesn’t matter if the secondary character is a Siamese twin, if the story is a romance, it must be about the heroine and hero and the twin needs only to be a confidante or observer to the development of the romance. He/she doesn’t even need a Point Of View unless it can be added seamlessly and promotes the romance.

This brings me to the secondary character who serves the purpose of making sure the heroine knows all the hero’s sterling qualities (or vice-versa). Instead, allow the hero and heroine to notice each other. Show them actively observing and interacting with each other.

Romance is not about preaching to the masses. If the author has a message, she/he needs to write a non-fiction book that conveys that message more thoroughly. Romance is not the vehicle to get your personal teachings or experiences across to many people. The hero and heroine can do good deeds, they can be preachers, teachers or self-help gurus. You can use your experience in these fields to make the romance sound authentic—and perhaps even get a subtle message across—but an overt message from the hero and/or heroine is not for the reader of a WRP book…romance is what our readers are interested in. That’s why our readers buy the books. If they wanted self-help messages, they’d buy a different book.

I know authors complain that editors don’t want a good plot. Actually, we do. But the romance, which is what this company sells exclusively, must be foremost. Romance is not about anything that takes the focus off the hero and heroine – including all the details of how a job is done. I’ve read endless pages of job details that have nothing to do with hero and heroine…their jobs, yes. Their developing relationship, no.

Developing your character goes further in a romance than any plot. How a hero or heroine reacts, responds and resolves the plot around him/her develops a rapport with the reader and clearly allows them to identify with him/her. Since romance focuses on Happily Ever After, by its nature, the hero and heroine should have a clear sense of self, and the confidence to pursue their resolution, even if they are scared, sad, unhappy or terrified of the situation. That sense of self must be uplifting – the plot can be something shocking, but the hero and heroine must show character and growth through it.

Therein lies the crux of romance. Romance is not about making readers think in a different way. Romance is not about improving their lifestyles. Romance is not about preaching right from wrong. Romance is not about teaching them a skill. Romance is not about learning to overcome addiction, alcoholism or some other trait. You can include these issues—use them as conflict points—and perhaps touch a reader’s heart, but those heavy-hitting messages need to be so subliminal that the reader doesn’t realize they are there until some relevant “ah-ha” moment much later.

What message do WRP romance readers want to read?

There should be only one criteria: The developing relationship between two people who love each other and who work and plan to spend a lifetime together.

Romance IS the message.

As Christians privy to the greatest romance ever written, we know how powerful and life-changing that message can be.

Go forth, and write it.

Whose Head are We in, Anyway?

Our poll “Hero, Heroine or Both? Whose Point-of-View do you prefer?” has come to a close. We asked the following questions:

Who’s point of view do you prefer? The tally, after 97 votes came in as such:

72.2 percent like both Hero's and Heroine's
17.5% prefer the heroine’s POV only, as told in first person
5.2% have no preference when it come to POV
An equal percentage prefer the hero’s POV only, with third person and first person points of view tying at 2.1% each
And finally, only 1% of voters like the heroine’s point of view exclusively as told in third person.

Interesting! The majority of those polled like to see both the heroine’s and hero’s points of view.


Our next poll takes a look at edgy Christian romance as opposed to traditional Christian romance. Which do you prefer? Let us know!

Author Spotlight on JoAnn Carter

Today, we're spotlighting White Rose author, JoAnn Carter. Please, take a moment to enjoy getting to know JoAnn as we have. You'll not be disappointed!

WRP: Where are you from?

JC: Originally, I'm from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. However, in 2001 we moved to Vermont.

WRP: You're latest release is a short story. Tell us about it. JC: By the Book was the first story I ever had published (2007). It was released through a small publishing house which has since gone out of business. I was thrilled when White Rose Publishing offered me a contract on it. I've had the pleasure of working with a teriffic editor, Elizabeth West. She's amazing! What a blessing it has been to work with her. So while this book has the same fun plot, it will be polished to a shine thanks to Elizabeth's efforts. Here a brief summary:

Perky 24 year-old police dispatcher, Sarah Murphy, is held captive by images of her past. She doesn't trust men and is determined to hold on to her heart at all costs. Lieutenant Dylan Eldredge of the Hampton Police Department believes she’s the woman God has intended for him and is equally determined to have her for his wife. But can he prove he’s the man for her?

I've dedicated this book to my sister, Cheryl. In the past she worked as a police dispatcher. She was instrumental in helping me understand their roles and responsibilitites. I also dedicated this book to God, my Savior. To Him be the glory.

WRP: How did you come up with the title?

JC: By the Book is a play on words. You know how in those detective shows they always said, "Book'um." That holds to the idea that Police officer's go by the book--well, there's even a greater book that we need to consider. It's God's word. Thus the title; By the Book.

WRP: In addition to By the Book, you've recently seen another short story release. Tell us about that

JC: Sweet Rest was released 5/22/09. Here's the back cover blurb:

Soft spoken, twenty-eight-year-old Mike Anderson prepares to join his brother on a short-term mission trip to Florida. Here he plans on helping build new facilities for New Hopes Mission Agency. However, before he leaves, Mike learns there was an accident at the building site. Now the person who was injured is missing. Could these two incidents be mere coincidence or is something more sinister at work? And then there is the five-two spit-fire, Leah Rizzo, with whom he agreed to swap photography projects. Taking her with him could prove to be the colossal mistake of his lifetime—or perhaps God has a plan even in the midst of the mystery that shrouds the project.

This was another fun book to write. The idea came about when someone challenged me to write a book where the heroine who was atypical from the romance books I had written in the past. She wanted to see an agressive female. Hence, Leah Rizzo.

WRP: What book are you reading now?

JC: On the side I write book reviews for our local Christian Radio station so I'm in the middle of a few titles. Unleashing Courageous Faith by Paul Coughlin, and Finding an Unseen God by Alicia Britt Chole are what I'm working through now. But, for a special treat today I bought a title from White Rose Publishing, Forever From Paris. I can't wait to dig into it! Inspirational Romance is my favorite.

WRP: What is your next project? I have many projects in the works, but the one you'll hear about next here at White Rose Publishing is a short story called, Smuggler of the Heart. Here's a short blurb:

Disheartened and tired, Samantha Warren returns to Vermont during the winter break. Her passion for history rekindles after finding an old smuggler’s chest hidden in her grandparents' attic. Will she be able to return to New Jersey without her heart being smuggled like the chest once was? Or is it already too late?

WRP: How can readers contact you? Do you have a website?

JC: I love to hear from readers. They can contact me by e-mailing, jo.glenncarter @ yahoo.com or by visiting my web page: http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site

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Order By the Book

Order Sweet Rest

The Story In You

I tend to wax long about the components that make a good story. I’ve written on the subject at length in several articles at http://www.behindthegardengate.blogspot.com/.

That said, I constantly go on and on about character. However, there is another part of character that I don’t see discussed too often except in a superficial way. That issue is the “story of your heart.” You hear editors say it all the time, but what does it mean?

The story of your heart means that it must be a novel you care deeply about, perhaps a barely disguised personal account based on a true story. Or the book written on an issue close to your heart, due to personal or extenuating circumstances. Whatever the descriptor, the story is part and parcel of who you are. For some reason, you care about it more than any other work you’ve done.

So why is it so difficult to get the words on paper?

Simply put, most authors struggle to write emotions. People don’t feel just one emotion when something happens. They are a confused mess of many feelings. That is why it is an effort to really nail down the driving force behind great characterization.

The other part of the equation is that exposing those emotions makes an author feel vulnerable. At the same time, writers willing to open up are usually the ones who can wring tears out of a rock.

So, how do you get there? Take a deep breath, relax and drift into your subconcious. Go to that place deep in your soul and find the feelings that rocked your world. Ride that roller-coaster of personal experience - the time you were afraid as a child, or joyful about something you received, in tears over a lost pet, or feeling the aching sadness of a Mom when a child grows wings and leaves the nest.

Start to see your character through other people’s eyes. You don’t have to see every detail. You don’t have to use the same circumstances or fear or pain. But scour the depths of that spiritual lost-ness. Use it.

Look for the cry, “Where is God when I need him?”

Or the forlorn emotional wrench of , “I don’t understand, why me?”

Or the fragile, miraculous joy of “This is my newborn child, my miracle!”

It isn’t the story that needs to be told. It is the character. The story can be anything. But what the character does and reacts to – that’s the story right there. You can put the character in the same setting or completely different but you can still call on the emotions you felt at the time.

The story isn’t yours…but it is you.

Codependent Independence

Here in the United States, we’re gearing up to celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend. With a holiday celebrating our country’s independence so close, it has me thinking about what it means to be independent, which, of course, leads me to writing.

In a romance novel, we all want to see strong, independent women and strong, independent men. But just like the United States is a member of the UN and relies on its allies, the hero and heroine of a romance need to rely on each other. Yes, I’m saying the independent man and woman need to be dependent on each other. How does that work?

Well, think about it for a moment. Independence is great; so is self-reliance. However, I’m sure all of us have had to rely on others at one time or another, whether at work or in our personal lives. No matter how independent the hero and heroine are, their strengths should support the weaknesses of the other half of the relationship. That teamwork, that completion of a person is what romance is all about: finding that one person who makes you whole and loves you through everything.

The next time you read a romance--or write one, for that matter--think about the hero and heroine. Do they show strength and independence? Do they also show weakness that only the one they love can fulfill? That codependence and knowing they can rely on each other no matter what happens is one of the signs of a strong relationship, and a strong, lasting relationship is what brings the true happily ever after ending essential to a romance novel.

New & Improved Site

I'm thrilled to announce that we've made some changes to our web site. We're gearing up for exciting things ahead, so be sure to visit often. Today we're offering a free read by Cindy K. Green entitled My Grand Epiphany. Head over to White Rose Publishing and check it out.