Short Story Contest: Hearts Crossing

Hearts Crossing Cover

What’s missing from this cover?

Your Name!

Introducing a new contest from White Rose Publishing.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, we’re giving you a picture plus a synopsis—and that’s worth 20,000-25,000 words plus a publishing contract. All you have to do is fill in the synopsis blanks to create your own unique plot, and then write the story to go with it.



  • Finished word-length must be between 20,000 and 25,000
  • Story must be have a contemporary setting
  • Must be an original, never-before published work, and you must own the rights to it.
  • Entries must not stray from the synopsis except where blanks are left for you to fill in.
  • Your hero and heroine must look like the couple on the cover
  • Entries must arrive on or before 30 September 2009
  • Manuscripts must be formatted per standard formatting rules (Times, 12 pt, double-spaced, 1-1 ½ in. margins, numbered pages)
  • Your name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Contest is open to both published and unpublished writers
  • White Rose Publishing and The Wild Rose Press authors are eligible to enter
  • White Rose Publishing and The Wild Rose Press employees are not eligible to enter
  • Story content must adhere to posted White Rose Publishing guidelines (as posted at 19 May 2009)


  • Anywhere there’s a blank in the synopsis you are free to be creative.
  • The title on the cover is Hearts Crossing—You are free to leave it that way or to make it Heart’s Crossing or Hearts’ Crossing
  • Although the setting must be contemporary, your story can be any romance sub-genre (e.g. Romantic suspense, comedy)
  • You may choose your own characters’ names.
  • With the exception of the hero’s and heroine’s ages, which must fall within the age-range dictated in the synopsis, you may decide the ages of your characters.


Hero: Joe Hero is an English teacher who teaches_______grade. He is the ___ th of eight children. He has four brothers and three sisters. He is ___years old (must be between 25 & 35). Joe Hero has a sad story. He lost his faith in God because_____, and he doesn’t desire ever to get it back again. Until he meets Jane Heroine, that is. He falls head-over-heels, but he’s afraid because he harbours ______secret that he’s sure will tear them apart if she ever finds out.

Heroine: Jane Heroine is ____years old (must be between 22 and 32). She’s an only child and is a landscape architect. She’s always been a strong Christian, but recently she’s begun to doubt her faith because_______________and now she must overcome that obstacle in order to help Joe Hero regain his.

When Jane and Joe meet for the first time at_______and for ________reason, sparks fly because____________. They begin to fall in love, but there’s more than Joe Hero’s secret waiting for them in the wings. Much to the chagrin of both Joe and Jane, J.Villain shows up. J.Villain is an Ex-______ of (Insert either Hero or Heroine)’s and J.Villain shows up because s/he________. This really throws a kink into Joe Hero and Jane Heroine’s relationship, but they overcome that, by__________, and so with Joe’s and Jane’s faith restored, J. Villain’s conflict all cleared up, Joe proposes to Jane and they live happily-ever-after.


Email your entry as a single Word .doc or .rtf attachment

Put: “Contest Entry: Hearts Crossing: YOUR NAME in the subject line.”

In the body of the email, include

  • A copy of the synopsis (the one provided with this contest) with the blanks filled in to accommodate your story.
  • Your Real name
  • Pseudonym, if applicable
  • Your contact Email
  • The title (If using one of the alternates with the apostrophe)
  • Word-count

Entries received that do not follow these guidelines will be discarded without notice. White Rose Publishing is not responsible for entries lost in cyberspace and not received.

Upon receipt, you will receive a confirmation email. If you have not received a confirmation email within three working days of emailing your entry, please send us an email.

Direct questions regarding the contest to: Individual entries will not be discussed.

Winner will be announced on the White Rose Publishing website and blog on or before 31 December 2009. If you have received receipt of your entry, please do not enquire about the contest until after that date. Only the winning entrant will be contacted directly.

Winner will receive a standard “Miniature Rose” publishing contract, and the story will be released in 2010.


You've Lost that Loving Feeling...

Or, your writing would be tighter and more active if you would lose those "feelings." Today, we're going to talk about the word, "felt." I've seen many authors try to make their writing more active (as opposed to passive) by getting rid of "was" and replacing it with "felt." However, we have to understand that "felt" can be as passive as "was" can be. Although--and please listen to me here--neither WAS nor FELT are always passive. Both words have their place in a story, so don't be afraid to use them; just use them well.

So felt: Let's take a look at what we can do to Active-ate some sentences.

He felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.
The hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

She felt the blood drain from her face.
The blood drained from her face.

She felt the light touch of his fingers on her shoulder.
The light touch of his fingers on her shoulder [insert reaction here].

She felt sick to her stomach.
She fought back the nausea.

He was sure the only way to fix the problem was to tell the truth now.
He felt sure the only way to fix the problem was to tell the truth now.
[both of the above are the same]
The only way to fix the problem was to tell the truth.
Only telling the truth would fix the problem.
[If we're in "his" point of view, then we know these are his thoughts/feelings/beliefs]

He felt the muscle in his leg protest the workout.
The muscle in his leg protested the workout.

She felt her hair move in the breeze
The breeze ruffled her hair.
Her hair moved in the breeze.

Hope these brief examples will give you a little more insight in how to tighten your work when you begin your next edit or new project.

Upcoming Event: Meet White Rose Authors

Meet White Rose Publishing authors, Pamela S. Thibodeaux, Kara Lynn Russell and Nicola Beaumont as they get together for a chat hosted by Romance Junkies. Meet the authors, ask questions, and possibly win free copies of some of their latest releases. The event takes place Sunday, May 17, 2009. 9pm ET

Exclusive Free Reads

Come this fall, we're going to launch our debut serial novella, Once Upon a Collar, which will be an exclusive read that only members of the White Rose Publishing readers' loop will receive. In addition, we're periodically going to release some free micro-reads to the loop (These will not be available in our regular catalogue). These free stories are our way of saying thanks for supporting White Rose Publishing. There is no catch; they are completely free...but, you do have to be a member of the White Rose readers' group in order to gain access to the stories.

Click to join WhiteRosePublishing

Click to join WhiteRosePublishing

Want a hint at what's coming, here's some info on a couple of upcoming free reads:

Sparks Still Fly by Ashley Ludwig (micro-read)

After a chance meeting, Wendy re-friends her first love.
Twenty years, a failed marriage, and two children later, she can’t believe he really wants to pick up where they left off.
When they see each other again, will he dash her hopes to embers? or will sparks still fly?

Once Upon a Collar by Teri Wilson (serialized novella)

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?

What's Your Favourite Genre

Just after we launched White Rose Publishing, we put up a poll to get reader input on what their favourite sub-genre of Christian romance was. Here are the results:

22.5% prefer Contemporary
36% prefer Historical (which we broke out into even smaller subsets [see below])
17.1% prefer Romantic Suspense
8.1% don't have a preference and would read any of the sub-genre
6.3% prefer romantic cozy mysteries
4.5% prefer romance with supernatural elements
4.5% prefer multicultural

...and one person evidently doesn't like any of these sub-genres!

Below is the actual breakdown, but what does this tell me as the Senior Editor responsible for overseeing what WRP contracts? Obviously, we want to sell books, so I'm thinking finding some really great contemporary and historical romances would be a good idea--especially some with a suspense element, eh? :) However, if you write multicultural or romantic cozies--or something we've never seen before, don't rule us out. A great story will always hit a reader's must-read list.

Oh, and if you want to participate in our latest poll (tell us your fave. POV), head on over to the WRP website & tell us what you really think.

25 --22.5%
American-set Historicals
20 --18%
Romantic Suspense
19 --17.1%
12 --10.8%
Any of the above
9 --8.1%
8 --7.2%
Romantic Cozy Mystery
7 --6.3%
Romance w/ supernatural elements
5 --4.5%
5 --4.5%
None of the above
1 --0.9%
Gothic flavoured
0 0%

Number of Voters : 111

Elements of a Good Synopsis

I know for a lot of us, writing a synopsis is more daunting than actually writing the story. Today, we’re going to go over some elements that need to be included in a synopsis, and then I’m going to give you a short formula to remember in order ensure all those elements are included.


  • CONFLICT: The number one thing that must be conveyed in a synopsis, whether the synopsis be 1 to 2 pages, or a chapter by chapter, is CONFLICT. A story isn’t good without conflict, and so you must show the editor that you have woven a story rife with conflict.
  • SETTING: The editor needs to know the time and place of the novel. Be sure to include the significance of the setting if it’s important to the story. Is there are reason you set your novel in 1850s California, or could you have told the same story if you’d set it in 1850’s Louisiana?
  • MOTIVATION: Next, you must show your characters’ motivations. These are the things that shore up the conflict, and they must be believable. If your hero is a recluse and your heroine is reporter trying to get the scoop on the hero, then that sounds like great conflict BUT the reason your hero is a recluse must be believable. He can’t be a recluse solely because that is a great opposite to the reporter getting the story. And your reporter heroine can’t be dogging the hero for a story just because it’s a great opposite to a reclusive hero—She’s got to want the story for some fantastic reason that makes the reader want to find out what happens. Perhaps she thinks the hero is a murderer and has become reclusive just to save himself from jail, and so she vows to uncover him—to make the motivation stronger, maybe she’s related to the deceased. Then her motivation for exposing him is even greater than “just a prize-winning story.” Whatever your character’s motivations are for doing whatever it is they are doing in the story have to be believable, and they have to be complex enough to sustain the story’s word count. Which brings us to our next element which is
  • LOGICAL PROGRESSION: Make sure that you present your climaxes and crises in the order in which they appear in the manuscript. This helps show that you have a firm hold on the story and that your story weaving will build from start to conclusion, rather than being choppy and confusing. You don’t want the editor to think that you plug in a scene or conflict just when you think of it along the way—as in. “BTW, the reason I’m writing this now is because this happened earlier and I forgot to tell you.” Logical progression also means showing the growth and change of character. Your broken hero can’t suddenly be fixed at the end without showing the means by which he got fixed. It’s not enough to say, “My hero doesn’t know how to love, but by the end of the story, he learns how.” You have to show what experiences are in the book that teach him how to love. And these don’t have to be bulleted points.
  • RESOLUTION: Just as you have to show the logical growth and change in the characters, you also have to convey a satisfying and believable resolution to the conflicts you’ve created. How does the recluse get over his need to separate himself? How does the reporter come to realize that she’s tagged the wrong man solely because of her desire for vengeance? What events happen in the book that help the issues resolve?
  • FORMATTING: Once you have all your content in mind, it’s time to format and write. Your synopsis should be double spaced, with a header that clearly defines title-Synopsis in one upper corner, your name and page number (if more than one page) in the other upper corner. 1 to 1 ½ inch margins all the way around

Once you have all these things in your mind, you’ll be able to weave a provocative synopsis.

Okay, now we’ve looked at the elements that have to be in a synopsis, let’s look at a good way to put it all together. First, let me say that there is no one way to write a synopsis, no magic formula. In that respect, it’s a lot like writing your story. The synopsis has to convey your own writing style, and so it has to be unique. That said, there is a type of formula to keep in mind so that all the necessary elements are included. This is a formula that is designed for short synopses—1 or 2 pages. A chapter by chapter synopsis should automatically convey all the elements we looked at above, soley because you’re outlining step by step, and if you’ve written a good story that’s cohesive, has great character development and a satisfying ending, then a chapter by chapter synopsis should fall into place.

Anyway, to write a short synopsis, keep in mind four words: hero, heroine, conflict, resolution. And, keep in mind we’re looking at this for a romance synopsis. If you’re writing something like suspense, you’ll want to adjust that to: Hero, Villain, Conflict, Resolution. Or maybe Hero, Victim, Conflict, Resolution. It will depend on where your strongest characters and plot drivers are.

So: In the opening, introduce the hero (or heroine) being sure to include his motivations and emotions. Next, introduce the heroine and her motivations. After you’ve done that, introduce the conflict that is between them. It is important to note that oftentimes the conflict will be (and maybe, even should be) woven into the introductions of the hero and heroine. The conflict being more separated from these introductions usually comes in a mystery/suspense novel because the conflicts can be more external then—the murder or other crime which initially throws the H/H together—but in that type of novel there are usually more internal conflicts as well, and these will be introduced while showing the H/H’s motivations.

Lastly, describe the Conflict resolution. How does everything wrap up to reach the logical end of the story.

It may sound a little daunting, but just remember, you write a synopsis the same way you would tell your friends and family about your book. “It’s about this guy named Joe who [insert motivations here]” And then he meets this girl who [insert motivations here], but they can’t get together because [insert conflict here] but [this happens and that happens {plot progressions}] and so at the end [insert resolution].
Now, here's something that may surprise you--and I'm sure this isn't all editors, but a good number of us are this way--I don't read the synopsis first--not in it's entirety, anyway. If I don't know an author, I will skim to make sure the queried submission is a romance. If it doesn't sound as though it is, I'll read more carefully to find out. If it does sound like a romance, I will go directly to the partial. I want to read as a reader would--not knowing what's going to happen in the story down the line. It helps me to know better how a reader will react to the story--which is what it's all about, right?

That said, I do need a synopsis on hand, so that, as I'm reading, if something strikes me as odd or confusing, I can use the synopsis as a reference to see how the issue is going to be handled. So, it is important, even when submitting to an editor or agent who may not read it straight away, to have a cohesive and good synopsis.

Happy Writing, everyone!

New Releases! Lethal Lasagna & Shilo

This week, we have two releases...A novel by seasoned, award-winning author, Rhonda Gibson, entitled Lethal Lasagna, and a great quick-read by Kathie Harrington that touches on autism.

When Claire Parker’s best friend Mitzi is found dead, and Claire turns out to be the prime suspect, she takes matters into her own hands to find the murderer. Tracing Mitzi's steps, Claire meets new friends and a handsome man who may turn out to be the love of her life or Mitzi's murderer.

As the evidence piles up, Claire discovers the murderer is willing to strike again.

Can she find the killer before she becomes the next victim?

More information

Holly Holder is 27 years old and has never dated; not because she hasn't wanted to but because Holly's social skills are awkward and communication is difficult. Holly is a young adult with autism. She has been autistic all of her life but she is experiencing independence in her living arrangements and a new freedom in her emotions. Those emotions center on Hal, whom she has discovered at church every Sunday from Easter through the beautiful Iowa fall.

With a golden opportunity to sit by Hal will Holly have the courage? Will Holly say the right things and will she find Hal in step with her skills and characteristics and how will he respond? Love is never a given. Love is never made for just those perfect few. Love is meant for everyone and everyone is smiling.

More information

The necessity of good grammar

I was recently discussing grammar rules with a friend, and noting how so many colloquialisms and/or "variants" in spelling and punctuation continue to creep into our writing, when I came across this article posted on the BBC website. You will see where readers were challenged to write a thank you letter with two meanings. They had to use the same words--or words that sound the same--but change the punctuation to alter the meaning. Very interesting, and a great illustration of how the wrong (or, right, for that matter) punctuation can challenge comprehension.

It reminds me of the illustration of how changing which word gets emphasis in a sentence can also change the meaning:

"I never said he stole the money" can be understood to mean several things...

I never said he stole the money. (meaning, someone else said it)
I never said he stole the money. (meaning, I implied, or wrote, etc that he did it, but didn't "say" it)
I never said he stole the money. (meaning I said someone else did it)
I never said he stole the money. (meaning I didn't say he actually stole the money, even though he had the money)
I never said he stole the money. (meaning, I said he stole something else)

So, when polishing those manuscripts, be sure you have crossed all your Ts and put the commas where you intend. And when in doubt: look it up. Strunk & White is always good, as is CMOS, and a number of worthy sites on the WWW.

The Truth About Editors

Hello, everyone! I’m Elizabeth West, one of the editors at White Rose Publishing. Editors seem like a mystical group to a lot of people, especially authors, but in all honesty we’re just people who love books. Yes, we review submissions, accept and reject manuscripts, and bleed red ink all over an author’s work; it’s all just part of the job.

There are a lot of myths floating around about editors. One of my favorites is that we love to send out rejections. Not true. I have yet to come across an editor who actually enjoys sending a rejection. Personally, it’s one of the toughest parts of my job. I know how much work an author puts into a manuscript, not to mention the query letter and the synopsis. Having to tell them I can’t accept their story is hard, but it has to be done.

Which brings me to another of my favorite editor myths: Editors are picky. This one is true, but picky isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Editors see a ton of submissions every year, and there’s no way every manuscript that comes in can be published. It would be impossible. So, editors choose only the best manuscripts to publish.

What are some of the things an editor looks for? A good story for one. Do your characters feel real to me? Am I drawn into the story and make it through the manuscript without even noticing how much time has passed? Are the plot and conflict strong enough to justify the word count? Since I edit inspirational romance, I also look for the classic romance formula (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back) and spiritual growth on the part of the hero and/or heroine. To me, that element of faith woven throughout the story makes the happily-ever-after ending that much more satisfying.

I also look for good writing. Is the manuscript free of typos and spelling errors? Is the punctuation correct? Does the author demonstrate knowledge of English grammar? Is the writing active and the flow of the story good? Are the descriptions vivid but not over described? Does the manuscript show a good understanding of point of view (POV)?

That’s an intimidating list, I know. But does it mean you have no chance of publication unless your manuscript is absolutely perfect? No. You should always submit your best work, which means a manuscript polished to a high shine, but even if your critique partners think your submission is perfect and needs no further editing, your editor will likely have a different opinion. I’ve seen manuscripts that won contests, were polished beautifully, and still needed some editing for grammar, punctuation, to smooth out an awkward spot, or to meet house style.

Writing a novel is a labor of love for authors, but editing it is a labor of love for the editor. Our job is to make sure the story shines before it’s sent out into the world for readers to purchase and enjoy. Sometimes polishing it to that shine takes hard work by both the editor and the author; other times it’s a simple matter of moving a few commas around and fixing a typo or two.

Either way, I love being an editor. I’m so blessed to be able to help a writer’s dream of publication come true, and God has blessed me even more by allowing me to work with White Rose Publishing. If you’re a writer with an inspirational romance manuscript between 7,500 words and 100,000 words, consider submitting to White Rose Publishing. Remember, always read and follow the guidelines. The editor who receives your submission will appreciate it.

Congrats! Winners of a Free WRP Rosette

TWRPs Birthday Bash was a huge success--and a whole lot of fun! As a new break-out company from TWRP, it was a doubly momentus occasion. The winner of our White Rose hour was Hywela Lyn (Congrats, Hywela), but White Rose also gave away a few other prizes, as well.

The following each get a free rosette of their choice from the White Rose catalogue for signing up to "follow" this WRP staff blog

Marianne Evans
Kara Lynn Russell
Teri Wilson

The following each get a free rosette of their choice from the White Rose catalogue for joining the readers' loop on May 1


Visit our catalogue to choose your title, and then contact Lisa Dawn at Lisadawn (at) to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated in TWRPs birthday bash, and especially the White Rose hour.

And, if you're reading this thinking you missed your chance for a free read because you didn't sign up in time, never fear. Sign up on the readers' loop and get exclusive periodic free reads, and in fall 2009 get an entire exclusive novella.

Want to know what's going on at WRP? Get writing tips? Meet our authors? "Follow" our blog for instant notification of posts when you sign in to your account.

Chance's Return

This week's release is a novella by Lucy Naylor Kubash. This is Lucy's first White Rose release, and we're pleased to be able to feature a debut author two weeks in a row.

When prodigal son, Chance McCord, returns home to the North Star ranch, he faces a tragic past and a family divided. When young widow, Casey Girard, decides to spend the summer working on the North Star near the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, she doesn't expect to meet such a man as Chance, nor to fall so completely in love with him. They both must learn to trust in each other.

Can Casey's faith and love truly bring Chance home?

More information

Thank God for Small Mercies

So, I hurt my back on Monday and am still bedridden. The chiropractor has done wonders, and, although, I still can't sit properly, I am much better and continue to recover. (Thanks so much to those of you who emailed to let me know you are praying. I know those prayers are doing me a world of good and I appreciate it.) But I can tell you, on Tuesday, when I couldn't move an inch without pain, I didn't have such a positive outlook. Wah-wah! Today, though, as I was sloooowwwly making my way to the kitchen, I realized what a blessing all the small things in life are. You know, there are those biggies we always recognize--friends, family, associates (my dh took two days off work just to look after me.)--but there are also those small blessings--being able to enjoy a glass of water (and to lift your arm to get down the glass), or being able to turn the tap on the shower or being able to bend enough to put on your own socks. So many little daily tasks that we don't even think about most of the time, yet we are blessed to be able to do them. After all, there are people in the world who are not able to do so. They are blessed in other ways, I'm sure, but everything we are given--pain and suffering included--is a blessing to be treasured.