Saturday, February 28, 2015

#MFRWorg BLOGSforWRITERS @Write_Practice

Authors don't have endless hours to read every blog out there on the world wide web. Still, there are some blogs out there that are not to be missed. In our BLOGSforWRITERS feature, MFRWorg highlights blogs definitely worth your time.

The Write Practice is a blog that promotes the daily practice of writing. Their posts are always helpful and sometimes quirky. With so many other writers commenting, there's a community feel as writers learn from one another. CLICK HERE to visit the blog.

The Business of Writing: That Stupid Cover Letter

First I want to apologize for not posting last month. Something came up that got in the way of my post but I’m back and ready to talk about that cover letter.

* This image is from my pinterest account

To me the cover letter is harder to do than the synopsis. How do you sell yourself on one sheet of paper? Even if you are cold submitting via an e-mail you still need to keep it short and sweet. Your letter should be an intro paragraph, your book blurb, your accolades and a closing paragraph/sentence telling them you can’t wait to hear from them.

I was also told if I met an editor at a conference and we hit on something personal like she/he likes cats, or she/he grew up where I did, that I should put that in the intro paragraph so the editor would remember me. The biggest thing that was drilled into my head was to send that submission as quickly as possible after the editor requests it.

All the advice was great but it didn’t help me when it came time to write one. I didn’t even know how to start one.

Dear editor – if you have their name use it

Intro paragraph – I would mention that I am multi-published and who I’m published with. I would also mention that I write lighthearted erotic romances and my writing style resembles authors like Johanna Lindsey.

The second paragraph – I’d then add my blurb

The third paragraph – I’d mention the contests my books have finaled in, I’d also mention any special review I might have had – something that was a little more than a five star review although if you have 5 star reviews you can mention those as well. I would also mention I was a member of RWA and the positions I held I would also mention MFRW and any volunteer position I have. In my case I would also mention I work with a publisher.

Last paragraph would be the thank you for your time...

This is very basic and if anyone has something they do that works for them please post it. The more we know the better those letters are.


Barbara Donlon Bradley wears many hats. She’s a mother, wife, care-giver, author, and editor. She’s a senior editor for Melange Books, and writes for Phaze and Melange books/Satin Romances with over twenty titles under her belt.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

On The Nose Dialogue & How Fiction Writers Can Avoid It #MFRWauthor #WriteTip #MFRWorg #Writers #Authors

Today I’m looking at On-The-Nose dialogue (OTN). 

This isn't a problem for Scriptwriters alone. Fiction writers need to avoid this trap as well. 

On-the-nose dialogue will ensure readers drop your book faster than a red-hot ember. 

You and I both know that nobody wants to read dialogue that isn’t close to the way people really talk. Otherwise it’s boring, tedious and not worth reading. 

Yet, writers are still falling into the trap, not realising that the ability to avoid writing on-the-nose-dialogue sets great writers apart from so-so writers. It shows editors, agents, readers, reviewers and the like that you have the skill, understand and know-how to implement the numerous other fine distinctions of the craft of writing and storytelling.

So what is on-the-nose dialogue, and how can we avoid this hazard?

What is On The Nose Dialogue?

OTN dialogue is obvious dialogue. It’s bland, boring to read, and tells the reader exactly what the author needs the reader to know, or requires the scene to convey. Plus it’s nothing beyond filler. 

An example of on-the-nose dialogue would be...

“Hi, Jim, it’s really hot today.” Pete tugged at his tie. 

“Yes, Pete, but they say it’s going to rain later.”

Pete glanced out the window they were passing. “I can see some rain clouds coming in overhead.” His tie was still choking him and his loosened it. “So I saw you with Carol, your wife. Are you two getting back together?”

“Maybe... I think so... We’re working on it. Why do you ask?”   

“I was wondering because she cheated on you with your brother and all.”

“I really shouldn’t take her back, but I still love her.”

Okay enough! I can’t take anymore, and I’m sure you’re ready to stop reading by now. 

Do you see how utterly uninspiring and dead boring OTN dialogue is? Did you notice anything else? Not only did I show you OTN dialogue, I also threw in some OTN action as well—just as a treat :). 

Pete tugged at his tie. Why is Pete tugging his tie? Not because he’s nervous, but because it’s a hot day. 

Pete glanced out the window they were passing. Why? Just so he can see the rain clouds closing in.

This is all obvious action to go along with his obvious dialogue, and that’s what makes it OTN action. 

Another obvious statement coming from old Pete is: “So I saw you with Carol, your wife." 

I'm pretty sure Jim already knows who his wife is! And that she cheated with his brother.

Rule of Thumb: anything that is obvious is On-The-Nose, whether it’s dialogue or action. Think subtle. Think show don’t tell. Think mystery (not of the whodunit, but of the I-wonder-what’s-really-being-said-here variety). 

The next part of the above scene, which leaves the reader cold, is the lack of any real point of view character. Through whose eyes are we viewing the story? These are all hazards of the OTN dialogue. 

How Do We Avoid This Hazard?

The trick, my friends, is to use subtext and deep POV. We say things all the time that we don’t know we’re saying. As authors, we can use this to great advantage. I spoke about subtext in my Pull Up a Chair With Mon series over on my blog a while ago, so I won’t delve into it again too deeply here. 

What I’d like to do is try and see if we can make the above scene any better. Let’s hang out in Pete’s head to see what's going on...

“Hey, Jim, wait up.” Pete jogged the few paces to catch up with his buddy. Even at this early hour in the day, sweat trickled down his back. Snagged his dress shirt and plastered it to his back.

“Just leave it, Pete, I’m warning you.” Jim’s dark, narrowed gaze sliced into him. But what sort of buddy would Pete be if he didn’t make his friend realise he was heading down the same road to destruction as before?

“You know I can’t do that, bud. Just hear me out, and if you still want to take Carol back, I'd be first to raise a toast to your happy future.”

Jim skidded to a halt. Spun on Pete like he had murder on his mind. “What is your problem with my wife?” 

The clenched fists and steam shooting from Jim’s nostrils let Pete know his friend of ten years was close to outing his lights. Pete loosened his tie. Maybe the god-awful heat had gone to his head, but Pete was ready to duke it out with Jim right here is the hallway of TTNT—in front of all their work colleagues—if it meant Jim would finally listen to what he had to say.

“The only problem I have is that she’s a liar and a cheat, and she doesn’t deserve all the chances you keep giving her. What second chance are you on now? Fifth?”

Fist balled tight, Jim drew his arm back. 

Pete knew what was coming and he welcomed it. What he didn’t expect was the force of the punch that connected with his jaw, and knocked half a day’s memory out of his brain.

This is a rough example. It needs more subtleties added. The senses, for starters, and a deeper understanding of who Pete and Jim really are, but I’m not writing a story here, just giving you a quick example. 

With any luck, you see the difference between the two scenes. The first is out and out OTN. The second is a little more subtle. Giving the reader info while keeping her/him wanting to know what’s going on by dripping in the relevant facts. I achieved this by letting the reader see what’s happening inside my POV character through action, internal narrative and emotion. 

Have you ever been snared by the dreaded on-the-nose dialogue trap? Do you have any neat tricks or ways to avoid it? I'd love to hear what you think. 

Until next time... let's avoid the nose.


Author/Screenwriter Monique DeVere currently resides in the UK with her amazing hero husband, four beautiful grown-up children, and three incredible granddaughters. 

Monique writes Romantic Comedy stories some call Smexy—Smart & Sexy—and others call fluff. Monique makes no apologies for writing fun, emotional feel-good romance! She also writes Christian Suspense with a more serious edge.  

Monique loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her by visiting her to learn more about her and check out her other books.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Author-to-Author: On Writing Erotica @SuzDeMello #MFRWauthor

Scenes are the building blocks of your story, for acts are comprised of scenes. They're nothing
more than events, most often interactions between your characters. Scenes should fulfill at least one or two of the below purposes—best if you can include all four.

•Advance plot
•Reveal or develop character
•Complicate or resolve conflict
•Express setting, mood, theme

Everything in your manuscript should have a function, even every comma or em-dash.

How does this apply to the writing of erotica?
Too often, sex scenes are shoehorned into a story to increase the word count or the heat level, while those scenes don't fulfill any other function. To quote from Plotting and Planning again, Everything in a story should contribute to it, from the biggest monster to the tiniest comma.

If a scene doesn't contribute to the story, it doesn't belong there. It doesn't matter how well-written it is. It doesn't matter how hot it is. It doesn't matter how much you, the author, may love the beautiful prose or the scorching hot, kinky sex.

There's a piece of writerly advice out there: Kill your darlings.

No one's quite sure where this phrase originated, but it's been repeated often, by such notable authors as William Faulkner and Stephen King. (SOURCE)

But it doesn't matter who originated the phrase--it's great advice. We often fall in love with our prose and are loath to cut it, especially when we may have slaved over a particularly well-turned clause or exhaustively researched, say, the eating habits of the lesser lemur of Madagascar.

Fiction is no place to be a smarty-pants. Leave that for term papers, book reports and theses.

In terms of writing sex scenes, what do we leave in and what to we cut?
We leave in those scenes that fulfill at least one of the above purposes. Ideally, a well-written, thoughtfully planned encounter will fulfill more than one purpose.

Here's a brief example, from a story I wrote called Gypsy Witch. The backstory is that the heroine is dating a cop.
Ben propped himself up on his elbows to better see the naked woman beneath him. Sheened with sweat, Elena’s lush curves glowed in the reddish half-light of her bedroom, curtained in exotically patterned swaths of gauze and silk. A curl of smoke from a lit incense stick scented the air with sandalwood. Otherworldly New Age music flowed out of a boombox in the corner, irritating the hell out of him. 
Though the paragraph is very sensual, there’s quite a bit of characterization and even a little conflict—and this is only the first paragraph of the story. We see that Ben is very “feet-on-the-ground” while Elena, his lover, is exotic and New-Agey. So character is described, setting is related and the romantic conflict is shown.

If you like what you read, find the story here:

As a romance novelist, I believe firmly that erotic scenes should never be gratuitous. If a writer keeps the purposes a scene must fulfill in mind while writing, the sex is never out of place but is a seamless part of a well-written story.

From my writing treatise, Plotting and Planning, available at

ABOUT Suz deMello
Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms as Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

--Find her books at
--For editing services, email her at
--Befriend her on Facebook:
--She tweets @Suzdemello;
--Her current blog is

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Importance of a Target Audience for Authors #MFRWauthor #mfrwblog

By now, we’ve all heard of the “long tail” in sales, from music to television shows to books. With the advent of the digital age, no longer are we all resigned to watching “Leave it to Beaver” together. Instead, we can download a mermaid ménage story or a YA fantasy romance, as we choose.

But what that means is that our marketing efforts are also more spread out. From genre-specific blogs to niche groups on Goodreads, from Pinterest boards to Youtube channels, there is a marketing avenue for all of us.  The problem, though, is that we all have limited time and resources. So we have to determine where our specific audience hangs out the most.
Where is my target audience?

Broad audience better?

Many of us write our books and hope that they appeal to a broad audience. But in all likelihood, we do have a targeted audience in mind already. For instance, if we write slightly steamier or erotic romance, we are probably not expecting the inspirational crowd to pick up our book, or vice versa.  And, we all know the feeling of having picked up a book that we thought was something else, only to be disappointed by its contents. (Will we ever go read that author again?)

However, if we have defined our audience, then everything from our cover to our taglines will reflect what the reader wants, and our readers will be happy to have their expectations met!  

So here are some ideas for determining our target audience:

Do a survey, either on Facebook, or better yet, through your newsletter subscriptions. Keep it simple – no more than ten questions – and, along with demographics like age and nationality, ask deeper questions about preferences and themes.  Ask what their favorite social media is, too.  

Your ideal readers:

Think hard about the type of person that you would want to read your books.  If you could dream up a reader, what would he or she look like? Define these:

• Personality
• Attitudes
• Values
• Interests/hobbies
• Lifestyles
• Behavior

Once you have those people in mind, it is easier to determine where they hang out, and then, market accordingly.

Ways to Market:

 Search blogs on your topic of interest (even if they are not romance-related), and ask to guest blog. For instance, my latest novels are set in the Paelolithic. I will be heavily targeting all of the Paleo lifestyle sites, too. (And loving that Paleo hashtag!)

Most people would normally recommend, too, that we buy more targeted ads on Goodreads or Facebook, however I still cannot find convincing data that says that these ads generate great sales. As many have said before me, the most important thing an author can do is 1. Write a great book and 2. Engage with readers on a personal level.

So finding your target audience will allow you to find those readers, and then engage with them where they are.  (Of course, like most things, this is easier said than done…)

What about you? What sort of target audience have you defined – or not – for yourself, and how has that helped your sales? Love to hear any and all comments!

About the Author:
Erin writes sensuous paranormal romances set in exotic locales. Her latest book is a sexy minotaur shifter story set in Crete.  A regular blogger for Marketing for Romance Writers as well as Heroes and Heartbreakers, Erin lives in Atlanta with her two little paranormal beings and one unruly husband.

Erin also now offers editing services, including help with bios and queries, on her website.  She's giving away a critique of a first chapter with a subscription to her newsletter

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Make It Easy...For Everyone #MFRWOrg

Marketing For Romance Writers.
Created to help educate and elevate writers of all genres, though often thought of as Marketing for ROMANCE Writers.
Click to join MFRW Yahoo GroupIn full truth, MFRW is also about helping each other. Reaching a hand out to boost fellow writers up, knowing they'll do the same for us.  We all see the requests. ReTweet, click here, support there. And we're happy to take a few seconds from our busy day to do just that.
Except...the petitioner has forgotten to let us know And after far too long spent floundering, looking for answers, we sign off, disgruntled.
Has this happened to you? I know it's happened to me. And all too often if I ask for more information the questions echoes in an empty room. Crickets chirp in the vast nothingness. Being of scattered mind and not near enough time I soon lose the ambition to help out, and turn to my next project.
Make it EASY for us to help you.
If you want someone to read your blog, give a link to the blog, NOT just to the first page of your website.
If you want an opinion on your cover art, link to the art itself.
You want participation in a group event don't just give the link to that event. Explain about the participation, what it means, how to join in. Is it enough to just sign up or will we need to do something else when the magic day arrives? Not everyone is up to date on every promotional opportunity and often we (okay I) get confused with all that can be done.
Even when I sort of know which button to push when, I don't always know why and sometimes not even where. If you set up a reTweet day, take a minute to explain what we're going to be doing once we're on Twitter, finger poised to punch something somewhere. Because we do want to help but we also really do need to know how and what we need to do. Make it easy and it will be fun for everyone, and we can help fulfill the MFRW goals:
Seek, Teach, Share, Learn, SUCCEED

thoughts shared from  Mona Karel
Blog Hop Coordinator

In addition to occasional curmudgeonly outbursts, Mona writes Romance both normal and paranormal as a way to share her daydreams with the rest of the world. When not writing she wraps her world around her Salukis, her home in the New Mexico high desert, and photographing the quirky, the unusual, and the just plain gorgeous.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Creating a Newsletter--The Body by Rochelle Weber, Publisher #MFRW Newsletter

Last month, we discussed creating the first page of a newsletter. For some authors, that’s all you’ll need. Others may go further. You may want to add another page with a blurb and an excerpt of the book your guest author’s promoting. And, of course, you’ll want to include buy-links for the book. I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I always work with both rulers visible. I use them as guides when placing text boxes and artwork.

In the MFRW Newsletter, we have headers at the top of each page. You can use your banner. All of ours have our logo, and since we showcase numerous books in various genres, we have banners for each genre, as well as some that just have our logo. Once you’ve designed a basic banner, it’s easy to adapt it if you wish to do so. Maybe you’ll just want to use a slightly shorter version of the header you created for your first page. All you need to do is go into IrfanView (or whatever photo editing software you’re using), pull up the jpg of your header, and resize it.

To resize artwork in IrfanView, click on the Image menu, and then Resize/Resample. You’ll see “Change Size Here and Width and Height boxes. Choose “pixels, cm, or inches”—whichever you’re most comfortable working with. Be sure to click “Preserve aspect ratio (proportional).” I also like to click “Apply sharpen after resample.” Then adjust your height. I suggest using headers that are no more than 1.5 inches tall. You may have to stretch it out a bit to fit it across your page. If that’s the case and the text and artwork appear stretched, you’ll want to go back to IrfanView (or whatever photo editing software you’re using) and shorten your artwork a bit more (maybe down to one inch) so you can catch it at the corner and stretch it out symmetrically. I prefer 150 dots per inch (dpi). It’s dense enough to post on the web, but doesn’t take up as much bandwidth as 300 dpi.

Next, I add a box for the page title. That can be the title of the book, the author’s name with (Cont.) or (Cont. from Page 1), etc. I use a short box, about a half inch tall, as wide as the page, or at least from margin to margin. I use a font like Arial Rounded MT Bold in about 18 points in this box. For MFRW, we use pink text in this box, but you can play with your text. On the left side of the screen, there’s usually a toolbar with an icon that shows a skewed capital A. If you click on that, it will give you a bunch of special text formats to choose from. Or, you can highlight the text and click on the icon in the Home ribbon that shows a capital A underlined in red. You can go in there to change the color of your font. If you click on “more colors,” you’ll get a palette of colors, and you can also click on the Custom tab at the top to tweak the colors to your own taste. I keep a list of the color formulae for the header/URL Link/box line pink; the rusty/brown for the in-text titles, and the gold for the artwork frames.

Once I have the artwork prepared, I create text boxes for the writing. I do my writing in Word and then I can just transfer it to the text boxes in Publisher. My preferred font for text is Garamond 11, and I use the ruler in Word to set up my indentations. I inherited a Mensa newsletter that used Garamond 11 and I liked it, so it’s become my standard.

After I’ve transferred the material to Publisher, I hit Control/A to highlight everything in the text box. Then I go to the Format menu and click on Paragraph. In that menu box, I can set my justification (usually justified), set the spacing I want above and below each paragraph and between lines. I use 1.15 spaces between lines. It gives just a smidge extra space there. You want to put a lot of information into a small space with a newsletter, so you probably don’t want to go with double spacing or even 1.5 lines’ spacing. I suggest spacing your lines no larger than 1.25 lines.

Finally, place your cursor where you want your artwork to go, and go to Insert Artwork from My Computer. There’s an icon for it that has what looks like a photo of a mountain on it, but I’m not sure if that’s a regular part of the toolbar, or if I added it when I customized the Publisher toolbar to suit my needs.

That, I think, takes care of the body, unless you want to add a Masthead. We can discuss that next month.

Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and holds a BA in Communications from Columbia College in Chicago with an emphasis on Creative Writing. “Would you like fries with that?” Her novels Rock Bound and Rock Crazy are available in both e-book and print. Her third novel, The Thin Person Inside, will be available in multiple digital formats from MuseItUp Publishing, Inc., in May, 2015. She edits for Jupiter Gardens Press, and is the Publisher of the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, winner of the 2013 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll for Best Writers’ Resource.

Rochelle battles bi-polar disorder, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.” Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. She lives in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. She has two married daughters, four grandchildren, three step-grandkids, and one step-great-grandkid. Two cats allow her to live with them and cater to their every whim.

You can access the MFRW Newsletters at: