After Christmas FREE offer: Wednesday's Child


Clare Revell “puts the EEP in creepy” touts one Amazon reviewer, while another hails Revell's book as “gripping and well-written.” Now for a limited time ( Dec 27, 28 & 29) you can pick up a pre-release copy of Wednesday’s Child, FREE.

You don’t want to miss any of this exciting series.

If you missed Monday’s Child, don’t worry; it’s still available!
And pick up a copy of Tuesday's Child, too.

Monday's Child must hide for protection,
Tuesday's Child tenders direction,
Wednesday's Child grieves for his soul,
Thursday's Child chases the whole,
Friday's Child is a man obsessed,
Saturday's Child might be possessed,
And Sunday's Child on life's seas is tossed,
    awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost.

Make-A-Story™ - Monday's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.   
A special star in the sky
A family story related to the star
A gift given to a child, also related to the star

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #17

Finding Home by Marianne Evans
finding home_120A Christmas voyage to London…

Six months ago, Alexa Gordon’s engagement transformed from happiness to betrayal. Christmas is on the way. The last thing she wants to do is spend the holiday in mourning for being so foolish with her emotions. A spontaneous, soul-reviving trip to London is just what she needs.

Becomes a mission of the heart…

Peter Colby, a treasured friend from Alexa’s study abroad term in England years ago, welcomes her back to the UK with open arms. He knows she’s still reeling, but he’s determined to show her a proper, fulfilling love that will keep her at his side forever.

And God’s plan unfolds.

But they live half the world apart, and Alexa is shattered by past pain. Can Peter help her find the courage she longs for? Can he convince Alexa that finding home isn’t just about logistics, it’s about the power of the heart?

Make-A-Story™ - Monday's writing prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.   

A cup of coffee
A feather
A pair of bunny slippers

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #16

She Came to See the Snow by Mary Annslee Urban
SheCameToSeeTheSnow_w11271_120 Haley Blackwell travels to Colorado with plans to relive her favorite childhood memories—including a snowy Christmas. When she meets her grandparents’ neighbor, she finds herself yearning for more than a white Christmas, but trusting men has never been easy for Haley.

After a failed marriage, and the death of his ex-wife, Tate Rivers is determined to concentrate on raising his preschool daughter, Ashlyn, and to stay clear of another relationship. He doubts he can ever trust his heart to another woman—until he meets Haley.

Despite the weather forecast that does not include snow on Christmas Day, Ashlyn prays that God will give Haley the desires of her heart. Will Haley realize Tate isn’t a man who will abandon those he loves, and will they be able to push aside the past and step forward together in love—the way God desires?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #15

Christmas Forever by Robin Bayne
ChristmasForever_w11158_120Jason hasn't seen Cami in three years. Now she's back, with the son he'd wanted to claim as his own. Can he believe her newly found faith or will she desert him, and God, again?


Download a FREE pre-release copy of critically-acclaimed author, Raquel Byrnes's January 2013 release, Whispers on Shadow Bay. (free offer valid December 14th-15th)

This Christian Gothic Romance is hailed as a "beguiling mystery I couldn't put down!" Don't miss it.

Here's more about the book:

Ejected from her privileged life, Rosetta comes to Noble Island with a broken heart and shaken faith. She is enticed by hope in the arms of the dark and brooding Simon Hale, but people keep dying at Shadow Bay Hall, and Rosetta hears something in the walls.

Simon Hale finds the reclusive Rosetta both beautiful and intriguing, but when she seeks out the truth behind Shadow Bay Hall’s unexplained happenings, he is torn between hope for the future and his need to protect a dangerous secret.

With dark forces determined to keep truth at bay, Rosetta and Simon fight to uncover lies that imprison the island with fear. His wife’ death, tangled memories, a Romany feud; Rosetta must decide if she is strong enough to discover what’s behind The Whispers on Shadow Bay.

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #14

The Present by Toni Sheridan
ThePresent_w11117_120What does a girl do with a Christmas present that’s too good to be true?

This year’s Christmas is worse than ever. Candice Cane-Bryant (don’t call her Candy Cane) is stressed by her job, exhausted in her role as surrogate parent to her three younger siblings, and angry with her carefree adult sister, Jane. And all of that has her feeling guilty for not appreciating God’s gift of keeping her family together.

When Jane brings home another new guy, one more weight is added to Candice’s oversized burden. She’s lonely and wants a man to love. Not just any man—she’s in love with Dean Harlowe, Jane’s boyfriend, and no matter what she does, her feelings for him won’t go away. But this year, Jane has a present for her sister, and when Candice unwraps this one, Christmas will never be the same.

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #13

Ransomed Hope by Deborah Pierson Dill
RansomedHope_w11247_120“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

Seventeen years ago, Ashley Turner lost her father as well as Manuel Vega, the man she loved. Since then, she’s been trying to make the best of a bad situation. Now a widow, burdened with the alcoholic brother who bankrupted the family ranch, and days from foreclosure, she’s beyond hoping for her situation to improve. Ashley knows God allows adversity for a reason, but she can’t begin to comprehend the purpose in her troubles.

“…But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When Manuel makes good on his promise to return after having been harshly turned out so many years ago, Ashley dares to hope that all is not lost. His intention is not to rescue her, however, but to pursue revenge for past wrongs. He soon discovers that his hardened heart is no match for her renewed hope.

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #12

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe
MeetMeUnderTheMistletoe_w11222_120Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa's hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won't kiss a woman until he knows she's "the one." Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it'll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend's sister, and Jake believes he's found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance.

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he's instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #11

As You Are at Christmas by Davalynn Spencer
AsYouAreAtChristmas_w11192_300Angela Murphy’s plans for a cozy Colorado Christmas shatter when she finds her fellow-teacher boyfriend entangled with another woman. But she goes home anyway—to her grandmother Mollie’s Berthoud Boarding House where she’s forced into tasks with Mollie’s handsome new boarder, Matt Dawson.

While temporarily rooming at the boarding house until his new furnace arrives, Matt sees through Mollie’s manipulations to pair him with her granddaughter, but he can’t complain about spending time with the beautiful gray-eyed school teacher and the mangy stray they pick up on their way home from cutting a Christmas tree. In the company of both a beauty and a beast, Matt understands more clearly the words of a long-forgotten youth leader.

Will those words draw him back to a long-forgotten God? And will Angela find that home lies not in the Victorian house of her childhood, but in the arms of the man she’s grown to love?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #10

Southern Fried Christmas by Marian Merritt
SouthernFriedChristmas_w11200_120Love: purer than Colorado snow, deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

Unfortunately, fame follows her to the tiny village—along with her stalk

Make-A-Story™ - Monday Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.   
A broken dryer
A puppy
A pair of socks

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #9

Breath of Christmas by E. A. West
BreathOfChristmas_w11185_120When Esther Beauchamp agrees to drive a snowmobile during the Santa Snow Challenge, she expects a problem-free weekend of transporting snowboarders. What she gets is the task of transporting a single snowboarder and babysitting his service dog while he’s on the slope.

Robbie Kendrick is instantly attracted to the pretty staffer who volunteered to help him during the competition. While she’s clueless about asthma, he appreciates her efforts to understand how it affects him and his snowboarding. Best of all, she treats him like a man who isn’t disabled and gets along great with his medical alert dog.

But when Robbie’s ability to compete is called into question, is it in God’s plan for him to give up the career he loves, or will his competitive spirit cause him to lose his chance at a future with Esther?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #8

One Christmas Eve by Robin Patchen
OneChristmasEve_h11283_120 Movie star Blake Carmichael found more than just freedom from his drug addiction in rehab. He found God. And he has just one wish for the first Christmas of his new life: reconciliation with his teenage son, Eli. But after eight years of hardly hearing from Blake, Eli wants nothing to do with his father. So when his mother forces Eli to stay with Blake during the Christmas holidays, Eli sneaks out of the house.

From the New Hampshire seacoast to the dangerous streets of Boston, Blake searches for his son, desperate to protect Eli from sins Blake knows all too well. But even if he finds his son, will he ever be able to convince Eli of his love?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #7

Dr. Noah and the Sugar Plum Fairy by Carla Rossi
College senior and not-so-ex-ballerina Jane Trumbull is home for Christmas break. She welcomes the joyful chaos of a happy family holiday – then the rollercoaster of emotions begins.

Veterinarian Dr. Noah Barron hopes his return to Texas and his new clinic will help him forget about his dark days in California. But he can’t outrun unresolved issues and doesn’t know how lonely he really is – until he meets slightly clumsy Un-Plain Jane.

Can Jane and Noah learn to share who they really are and what they really want? And can they allow God to send joy after sorrow, hope for hidden dreams, and healing for past wounds?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #6

Ghosts of Christmas Past by Laura Briggs
Eleven Christmas Eves ago, young Libby Taylor said goodbye to her newborn son. With only her music dreams to keep her going, she vowed to someday make a life he could be part of. With a recording contract on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time, but an accident on an icy road sends Libby on a strange detour.

Badly injured and alone, she finds herself guided on a spiritual journey of discovery by the imagined ghosts of idolized music legends whose own mistakes mirror her personal choices.

Forced to examine the consequences of her past, present, and even her future, will Libby learn from the mistakes of the past before it’s too late, or will she survive only to lose everything that truly matters—including a chance for love?

Thursday's Tips: Reworking Cliches


One goal—perhaps the central objective—of writing is communication. Whether we’re penning fiction or nonfiction, we’re trying to communicate ideas and story. Our words matter; our phrasing matters.

One of an editor’s jobs is to interpret what the writer is saying. That’s another level of evaluation beyond grammatical rules or story structure, a level regarding content and communication.

Clichés are phrases that were developed (or accidentally invented) to communicate a thought, feeling, or situation. Most of the time, they’re used in regards to universal ideas/situations, but not always.

Most editors flag clichés. Why? One reason is that clichés do not communicate well. Another, is that clichés can be redundant. Also, if someone has been trained to mentally catch clichés, when they read one in a book, the familiar-but-meaningless phrase will jar them out of the story for a moment.

See if you can find any meaninglessness or redundancy in the following list:

Examples of clichés:

Each and every one of you

Bless his/her/your heart

Caught between a rock and a hard place

Making a mountain out of a molehill

Six of one, half a dozen of another

Couldn’t/can’t help but

Now, you could probably define exactly what each of these means. We’ve certainly heard/ read/used these enough, haven’t we? But if we do see them in books, do they really communicate something, or do we gloss over the phrase and search for deeper meaning elsewhere? Also, sometimes clichés don’t mean what they appear to mean, which can confuse readers who aren’t familiar with the inherent sarcasm or true intended meaning. (I’ve heard “bless your heart” isn’t a meant as a blessing…)

That’s why editors will most likely ask you to “write fresh,” or rework clichés. There are extra steps involved, but the work will pay off.

Here are some tips for reworking clichés:

· Ask yourself—What am I literally trying to say? It’s okay to start with a cliché, but don’t be afraid to rework it. Analyze it. What is the cliché saying? How can you say it better? Go for deeper meanings, nuances, layers. Focus on communication, and strategize how to best get your intended meaning across.

· Pull out a thesaurus—Sometimes changing out a word or two is all you need to do. Don’t make it too complicated, and don’t let one phrase or scene get you bogged down. But, don’t get lazy either. The strongest writing is cliché free. Reworking clichés isn’t always easy, but it does get easier.

· Don’t use the first phrase that comes to mind—Oftentimes, our minds tend to think in clichés. It’s easier. So, like I said, start there. Then, reword.

· Stay alert—Watch for clichés. One writing workshop teacher used to say “cliché alert” every time someone used one in her class, including whenever she quoted one. That kind of thinking will keep us aware of when a cliché pops up so we can practice rewording it.


Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. Perhaps your character really does use clichés. Maybe your story wouldn’t be the same without him/her. These characters even think in clichés. So, go ahead and include them in his/her dialogue and introspection. But beware. Readers are going to search for meaning elsewhere. Be careful how often s/he uses them. And don’t use your character as an excuse to leave too many clichés in your final draft.

Bottom line—avoid clichés whenever possible, even in non-manuscript writing. By practicing not using them in e-mails or social media (our non-fiction writing), we’re training ourselves to rethink and reword as we write. Remember, writing is all about communicating ideas.


Comb through your current manuscript. Find any clichés? See if you can rework them so they vanish and fresh writing takes their place. Your editor will thank you for it. Your readers will too.

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #5

An Aussie Christmas Angel by Clare Revell
AnAussieChristmasAngel_w11252_300On an extended holiday from the UK, John Connington finds himself in Sydney, Australia with no lodging, and only a telephone number from a friend-of-a-friend offering him a place to stay. Trusting that God knows what He’s doing, John makes the call.

Jo Heywood can’t believe the audacity of John Connington, yet when her flat mate knows of this obscure offer, there's nothing Jo can do. She’s not prepared for the avalanche of feelings this stranger elicits. Not impressed by God’s sense of humour, Jo fights how she feels.

Can a long distance relationship really work or is God just testing them both?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #4

The Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio
Seven Christmases have passed since Sonia Pettit last heard from her daughter Jody. Since Jody’s departure, Sonia’s world has been turned upside down. Her husband has died of a broken heart, and her son, bitter over his sister’s destructive actions, has become rebellious.

Her greatest desire is to have her family together at Christmas, but after what Jody has put them all through, can Sonia truly forgive her daughter?

Jody Pettit O’Dair ran away to experience a life of adventure and excitement, but since her
departure, her world has been turned upside down. She’s been abandoned by the man she met and married, lost her job, and is unable to care for her two children. With nowhere else to turn, this prodigal daughter begins the long journey home and prays she will be welcomed after walking away so long ago.

Will Jody find forgiveness in the arms of her family as easily as she received it from God?

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #3

Everybody Loves Mickey by Therese M. Travis
He’s a saint with a tarnished halo, and Aubrey Thomas can’t stand him…or can she?
Handsome fireman, Mickey Hurst is loved by all. He volunteers at the local parish where Aubrey Thomas works as an administrator. He sings in the choir. He leads the youth group. He even acts as the church handyman, but Aubrey knew him before he became Saint Mickey—when he told her he’d have to be drunk to kiss her…and he was. What’s so infuriating is that despite his horrible admission, Aubrey loves Mickey as much as everybody else.

Mickey doesn’t blame Aubrey for disliking him. After all, he kissed her when he wasn’t sober—and insulted her, to boot. Aubrey deserved a better man—a Godly man. But, since that fateful kiss, Mickey’s drawn closer to the Lord. With the intercession of God and the matchmaking parish staff, Mickey prays that this Christmas he will be able to prove to Aubrey he’s now the man for her.

Make-A-Story™ - Monday's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.   
A pearl necklace
A bowl of oatmeal
A child's tricycle 

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #2

The Christmas Stalking by Lillian Duncan
Overzealous fan or crazed stalker?

Country music superstar Destiny appears to have it all. Beauty, money, and fame. But it’s not all glitz and glamour. Being a celebrity comes with a price—loneliness, and now threats from an unknown stalker.

With Christmas approaching, and as the danger escalates in Nashville, Destiny has no choice but to disappear. She escapes to her grandparents’ cabin in the Adirondack Mountains near the tiny Village of Serenity & Peace.

It seems to be the perfect choice for a hideout. Longing for the serenity and peace she experienced there as a child, Destiny sheds her celebrity persona and resumes her long-forgotten identity as Holly Stone.

Unfortunately, fame follows her to the tiny village—along with her stalk

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight #1

Angel Song by Mary Manners
Down on her luck, college-educated art teacher Quinn Sanders is a single mom who's returned to Landers Hollow to raise her five-year-old daughter, Linsey. While working at the local diner, Quinn is befriended by Jason Graves. She has no idea Jason's the youth director of Landers Hollow Community Church until he asks her to lend a hand with the children's Christmas pageant.

Jason is dealing with issues of his own--a painful divorce following a doctor's confirmation that he'll never be able to father a child. Jason longs for a family of his own, but, rejected and disheartened, fears it may never come to pass.

Jason and Quinn are both searching for a Christmas miracle. What they find is sweeter than an angel's song.

Make-A-Story™ - Monday's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.   

A child's toy
A black dog
A train ride 

Happy Thanksgiving!

This weekend, as a special thank-you, we're offering 45% off all eBooks. Use Code THANKS509 at checkout, Nov.22-24

Have a blessed and happy weekend!

Call for Submissions: Passport to Romance

Passport to Romance emblem
Passport to Romance™

Let’s take a trip and fall in love! Passport to Romance™ titles are contemporary romances that are set in specific locales and feature a special set of objects. (Check out the Location/Object table for specifics).
Passport to Romance™ titles feature chic heroines who are sparkling, confident, open for adventure—and who are a perfect match for a contemporary alpha male who has a zest for life, a thirst for God, and who likes an intelligent woman who can hold her own.

Set in exotic locations around the world, these stories offer the contemporary Christian reader adventure, vivacity, romance and faith.

Passport to Romance™  key elements:

·       Heroines must be between the ages of 22 and 35.

·       Heroes must be between the ages of 22 and 39.

·       Settings and objects must be chosen from within the Passport to Romance™ guidelines.

·       Hero or Heroine (or both) must’ve traveled to the location of the story (i.e. He/She must’ve needed a passport to arrive at the story setting)

·       Regular guidelines for White Rose Publishing also apply

·       Word length: 30,000-35,000 words

·       Please submit only completed stories

An Important Tip:

We created the Passport to Romance™ series to for a two-fold reason: to give readers a taste of overseas and to stir the creative juices of authors. We encourage authors to research the chosen location so that the cultural flavor of the location can be infused into the story. Also, we want to encourage authors to think outside the box when considering ways to incorporate the object prompts. If the location is the Arctic Circle and one of the objects is "Hibiscus in Winter," don’t be discouraged! Rather, consider alternatives to the conventional bush blooming in the garden. Hibiscus in Winter might be the name of the heroine’s favourite musical band or book or poem. A hibiscus could arrive in winter when a plane carrying hibiscus bushes crashes or dumps its cargo for some reason, or because the hero knows a the hibiscus is the heroine’s favourite flower and so carries one with him as he arrives from Hawaii.

When ready to submit, please use the regular submission form found on the website.

Make-A-Story™ - Monday's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.   

Ice skates
A photograph
An antique truck

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

I've written on this subject before, but recently I've watched as an epidemic has spread from one manuscript to another. I feel the subject is screaming to be approached once again.

First, let me ask a few questions. How many conversations have you engaged in where the person or persons you are communicating with literally scream every bit of information they give to you? How many individuals in a group squeal with excitement over mundane information they want to share? Lastly, how many times do your own thoughts scream at you?

I'm teased many times because I really abhor an abundance of exclamation points. My own annoyance with them once led me to ask the advice of a very well-known literary agent who graciously commented that more than one exclamation point per manuscript screams--yes, screams! amateur author.

The common theme among authors today is the use of exclamation points for emphasis when, in actuality, are very few reasons for an exclamation point when used correctly. These reasons would include: your character is either screaming at the top of his or her lungs or they are excited beyond measure--real excitement, such as finding out that a long-lost relative has left you his entire estate, which includes a private island, a private jet, half of the real estate in America, and a diamond mine in Africa. Now, that might elicit an exclamation from even me.

So dear self-editor, look at each of your exclamation points. If your characters are in a conversation dotted by !'s, ask yourself if they are truly screaming or yelling so that everyone can hear them. Are they excited about what they have to say so much that they'd actually squeal over the news. Are they crying out for help? Do your inner thoughts really need to bellow to get your attention?

Imagine the scene in your head. If you were truly a part of what's going on, would the loudness of what is being said give you a headache.

Then, delete every unworthy exclamation point you find. Replace the lazy showing of emphasis by replacing the punctuation with action and or dialogue that says so much more than the exclamation point can convey.

And happy editing.

Make-A-Story™ - Monday's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view. 

A kitchen sink
An apple tree
A bluebird  

Thursday's Tips: Questions for your Opening Scene

Story openings can be very confusing. There are a few unasked questions an author must answer in the opening pages of a story in order to hook readers. 

Have you ever started a book and wondered what was happening? I mean, you could see the story playing out, but the point-of-view character’s mission wasn’t clear. Brings me to my first item. As you’re writing your story’s opening, help the reader connect with the story by giving them an idea of the character’s goal in that scene, of the “mission” they’re on. This applies to genres outside of suspense. Even a trip to the grocery store to pick up milk classifies as a mission. Give us something we can relate with. So, first question: 

What is my point-of-view character’s mission in this scene? 

Second question relates with the entire book, but must be revealed in your story opening: your story question. I’ve covered story question on this blog before. (Tip: Use the Search box at the top of this blog and search for keywords: story question.)

Are you clear on your overall story question? First, verify that you are, and then include this element in the opening pages. Story question helps engage readers, gives them another reason to keep reading. It’s very important to include in your opening pages and will keep you on track as you write the entire story. Remember, as soon as you answer the story question, the story is over. Wind down quickly following that and let your readers go. So, second question:

What is my story question, and how did I represent it in the opening pages of my book?

Next area is characterization. What makes readers care for my character? How have I made my character relatable, noble, respectable, or otherwise likable so that readers will keep reading? Characters must undergo an arc or transition from the opening of the story to the ending. So, they don’t always begin the story in a likable way. But we’re expecting our readers to keep reading. That’s challenging if all they see are the rough edges and annoying quirks. So, give characters a likeable or relatable element, something noble that helps us connect with him/her. This will help keep us reading. Ask yourself:

How have I helped endear my main character(s) to readers?

Part of the reader’s job as a story opens is to get a sense of story world, or setting. Readers want to picture it. Characters might be trapped in a dark cave underground, and readers will still require some type of description, preferably one laced with emotion so we feel what the point-of-view character (POVC) feels  while being trapped there. The descriptors should not be overly long, and don’t even have to be visual (as in the cave example), but they should be included so readers can immerse themselves in the story. This is part of the enjoyment of reading. Give this to your audience, and they’ll come back for more. So, as you are crafting that opening scene where you are setting up the story world for your book, ask yourself:

Where are the characters, and how have I grounded the scene in that location? How have I helped readers experience it? And how have I used setting to aid the telling of my story?

Deep POV will help ground readers in the character’s perspective and should include at least one anchoring emotion so readers can relate immediately. Some definitions: deep POV is point of view (perspective or “camera lens”) that helps us experience the story from deep within the character. There are some tell-tale signs that a story has not been written in deep POV. For example, the narrative should never read: he thought or she imagined. Instead, just give us the line. 

Lack of deep POV: 

If she ran any faster she was likely to trip, he thought. 

Deep POV:

If she ran any faster, she was likely to trip. (Leave off the final phrase. Notice the punctuation changes as well.) 

(Tip: For more on deep POV on this blog, use the Search box above and put in keywords: deep POV.)

The other definition is for anchoring emotion. An anchoring emotion (my term; others may call it something else) is one that is relatable for most readers. It’s universal. Most people have felt it. If you can dig into your character’s heart and find a universal, fitting, believable emotion for the situation they’re in (the situation the inciting incident sets off), you will hook readers. So, let’s say your POVC (point-of-view character) is a mother to a three-year-old daughter who has gone missing. This scenario is a great well for universal emotions. By assigning the strongest, most relatable anchoring emotion to this scene, you will hook the most readers. Then, let us feel it with her. The best anchoring emotion might be fear. What will happen to her daughter? No one loves her like the POVC does. No has the protective instincts the POVC (mother) does. How will the POVC live without knowing her daughter is safe? How will she keep breathing? How will she keep from panicking so she can help the investigators? Dig deep and feel the anxiety so you can translate it in a few lines on the page. (Don’t overdo it.) Anchor the scene, the POVC, and the reader in that emotion, and you’ll have engaging fiction. So, ask yourself:

Have I used deep POV? (For more info on this, just Google “Deep POV & Writing.”)

And have I used an anchoring emotion in this scene to hook readers?

This list of questions should give you a good start. So, take a peek at your opening scene and double-check. How would you answer these questions?

Write the Vision ~ Wednesday

With the fall of the year a familiar passage from Ecclesiastes often comes to mind. But today it struck me how these verses can be applied to writing.

A time to be born, and a time to die;    There is always that "birth" of a story, and there's that time to put one to rest, whether it's that last I dotted, or you dust one off, read it, and decide to move forward without that particular story.

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;   Plots and subplots, they are definitely planted. You have to plant them in the right place and tend them so they'll grow and flourish. I planted peppermint years ago, now the side of my house is a lovely peppermint garden. Its pervasive and difficult to remove. If only there wasn't so much of it. Yearly I have to "pluck up" the mint. Subplots can be like peppermint they can take over, so it's very important to know when to pluck lest a subplot runs wild.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
It's hard to know which stories you have started to let go and which ones to say "I can fix that." And as we "heal" we have to break down the story, then we can rebuild by reinforcing along the way.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Doesn't every story, every plot need depth and emotion?

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
A time to rend, and a time to sew; 

This is where you look at your finished manuscript and edit.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Happy Writing as you go through your week,
God Bless

Thursdays Tips: Formatting

It was such a pleasure to meet some of you at the recent American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference. Whether we met at the conference or not, perhaps you’re gearing up to submit a query through our on-line system (the only way to do so). Here’s the main link for submissions to Pelican Book Group: Once there, choose the imprint you’d like to submit to:

White Rose Publishing: Christian romance 

Harbourlight Books: Christian non-romance

Watershed Books: Christian young adult (YA) fiction 

When I was first writing full-length manuscripts and getting ready to submit them to houses, I wondered how to format them. Back then, there were few resources for finding out. But here are some tips for you, in case your editor asks to see your manuscript:

~ MARGINS: One-inch margins all around. Also, turn off “widow/orphan control” in Word so we truly get that one-inch bottom margin. 

~ NO TABS: Please do not use tabs (or repeated spaces) anywhere in your manuscript. Instead, for first line indent, highlight the entire manuscript and find the direction for Indentation: Special: First Line. Now, go back through, highlight scene separators (# or ****) and chapter headings and just pull the top margin marker back to be flush left so the element is truly centered. 

~ NO END-OF-LINE HYPHENS: Please allow your word processor to determine line length. Do not right justify and do not hit “enter” or “return” until you’ve reached the end of the paragraph you’re typing (or for chapter headings and scene breaks). Please do not go through and insert end-of-line hyphens on words. With different formatting, they could end up be-ing off.

~ PARAGRAPH SPACING: Normal paragraph spacing involves a block of text and an “enter” or “return” command followed by another block of text. There should not be an extra space (empty line) between paragraphs. 

~ END-OF-CHAPTER HARD PAGE BREAK: Immediately at the end of every chapter, insert a hard page break (CTRL+enter in Word on a PC). This will help ensure the layout stays correct throughout.

~ CHAPTER HEADINGS: Begin the chapter heading halfway down a new page. Use “Chapter One” (and so on) for headings. Titles are fine. Just center the title below the chapter number. Then, drop down two "returns" and begin the text. If we contract the title, we’ll change that a bit, but for ease of reviewing, this is a helpful format.

~ FONT: Use Times New Roman 12-point font. Exception for me is that while I was reading at conference, Courier New 12-point font was the easiest to read in that condensed amount of time with distractions all around. 

~ OVERALL SPACING: Set the entire manuscript (by highlighting all) to double space.

~ AFTER PUNCTUATION SPACING: Use one space after punctuation like periods, colons, question marks, etc. 

~ QUOTATION MARKS: Insert punctuation before quotation marks. Use double quotation marks (“ or ”) for dialogue, or to set information apart that is not in dialogue. If you’re already in dialogue and need to set something apart (an additional quote, for example), use single quotes. Do not use single quotes outside of dialogue. 

~ NO BOLD: There should not be any bolded text anywhere in your fiction manuscript. 

~ NO UNDERLINING: Fiction manuscripts should be void of underlining.

~ ITALICS: Use italics sparingly. Use it for present-tense introspection and the occasional emphasized word. That said, it’s best to write the sentence and surrounding sentences so the reader automatically emphasizes the key word. 

~ NO REPEATED WORDS: One of my personal pet peeves is repeated words within a short span (say, four pages). Use a thesaurus or rework the entire sentence in order to avoid repeated words. Lack of repetition is the sign of a strong writer who has learned to take the time to find those synonyms that keep the writing fresh.

~ AVOID REDUNDANCY: Nearly the same as the previous tip, but this one involves expressing the same thought in another way. If our heroine has already ruminated on something once, don’t reword the worry and include it again and again. Dig deeper and give us something more that relates with the heroine’s angst, or move on with the action.  

All that being said, we know that when you cut and paste your first chapter into our online system, the formatting will not match these requirements. However, if we ask you for the full, it’s important that it does. 

Having these elements in place helps us in the review process by making our time more efficient. We look forward to seeing your submission!