Home    Workshops    Members Only    Contests    Join    Contact us                       RWA Chapter

Thursday, December 20, 2012


My Son joined the Army & came home with this!

Ever since I first heard the story about a magic dragon named Puff, dragons have interested me.
The more I read, the more the stories of European dragons, Asian dragons, and oddities that could be dragons (think Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster) gave me ideas of my own. 

When I sat down to write a book about a Scottish villager cursed due to a misunderstanding (yes, that’s all the plot I had at the time) several books on my bookshelf included shape-shifters. Wolves and cheetahs, if I recall. I really had no interest in shape-shifter world building. I liked witches, so I made my hero change into a dragon due to a witch's curse.

Research on the supposed habitat of dragons led me to choose an island known for its caves. What is more creepy than a damp, dark cave? Years later, further research brought a myth to my attention. Scottish folklore is full of dragon-like creatures. Who knew? Many stories consider the legendary Loch Ness Monster a wingless, underwater dragon. I grew up thinking of ‘Nessie’ as a dinosaur, so why not a dragon? 

What if you wanted to use a creature in your book? Let’s be truthful, here. Sometimes a character demands to come to life on the pages of your manuscript, but you don’t know what to do with it. Research is the key. There are dozens of sites on the internet eager to share myths, sightings, historical paintings, and more. You can quickly get a ‘feel’ for your unearthly character. All you need do is look. Much of the research I discovered is divided by regions, countries, empires, and race. I have included a few I have found as especially helpful at the end of this article. 

When dealing with mythological creatures instead of actual wildlife, the writer has a certain freedom over the other writer. Cheetahs and wolves, for example, look, sound, and act a certain way because they are real. Dragons have certain traits such as scales, talons, wings, fangs, spiked tails, etc. However, as a writer I can make it wingless, or purple. I can make it speak, fall in love, or shape-shift. The freedom to twist and turn the creature to enhance my story is what I love about dragons! 

As promised, here are a few internet sites you can use to research myths and folklore with a Celtic flavor:
I also own the following books that have proved helpful in giving me ideas:
DRAGONS, a Beautifully Illustrated Quest by Jonathan Evans
Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia by George way
The Secret Lives of Elves & Faeries, by John Matthews
The Celtic Dragon Myth by J. F. Campbell 

Because I am a member of the Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance writers as well as the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, I can partake of on-line workshops that have helped me use Scottish folklore and historical facts in order to weave my stories. If you feel the urge to add a dragon, wolf, cobra, or even a unicorn, the information is out there. Go for it! 

More About the Author
Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of dirks and broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games and she is a proud Army Mom.
Her latest release is My Banished Highlander, the second book in her Highland Games Through Time series and is available in digital and print.
Book Blurb
When his clan convicts Cameron Robeson of treason in 1598 Scotland, the last thing he thought his cousin the Laird would do was banish him to the future. With a certain woman on his mind, he plans revenge while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the modern day New England Highland Games. His plans go awry when a comely redheaded lass wearing the Mackenzie plaid lands at his feet. 
Iona Mackenzie is worried about her friend, Haven, and searches for answers among the tents at the games. Whom can she trust to help? Her father? The handsome blacksmith? Or, the tall, golden-haired Highlander? Romance takes a back seat because saving her friend is her priority, no matter how great Cameron can kiss.
When a magical amulet and an angry sorcerer send this unlikely couple back through time, more than one heart will be broken. Danger, intrigue, and threats surround them, and feelings between Iona and Cameron grow hot and steamy. They fight the sorcerer and search for Iona’s friend, the woman he vowed to steal from his cousin. Will the strong-willed Highlander and the present day witch stop fighting long enough to listen to their hearts? With a letter in her hand and a Highlander at her back, what could go wrong?
Goodreads     Twitter   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

SPIN ME A WEB by author Sally J. Walker

Instinct dictates to a spider how a web must be constructed. Hm, if it were only that easy to spin the plot of a novel! 
In January, I will take participants on the journey of learning the signposts that anchor a plot’s web and the principles that link the novel’s words into a fascinating pattern for BOTH writer and reader. 
I discovered over 20 years ago that the stories I most thoroughly enjoyed had a point and charged forward toward that destination in patterns I could identify with and understand. I learned to recognize the “seat-of-the-pants” writers who took me on unnecessary side-trips or who meandered in their stories. 

Study and careful analysis resulted in an indelicate sledgehammer to my forehead: Some writers didn’t plan their story events but simply let them unfold whenever they sat down to write. The problem was I did not read as slowly as they wrote. I am a speed-reader therefore any digressions or meandering annoyed me to the “nth” degree. 

Of course, not a writer on this planet is going to spew a novel as fast as a reader can consume it, let alone a speed-reader. Understanding that as a writer, I did not want to waste my time or my reader’s imaginary energy on digressions and meanderings, thus I evolved the practice of planning the plots of my novels and screenplays via signpost events.

My creativity was not hampered by the structure. In fact, every time I sit down to a story I feel the thrill of creative energy driving toward the next signpost in my characters’ lives. Life may be illogical, messy, chaotic, but I can come and go in my character’s lives because I KNOW where they are headed. I know I will not waste their time (and the reader’s) with irrelevancies. I have control of this my imaginings.

Planning allows the writer to envision the world the characters live in at the beginning of the story. Of course, some genres—such as science fiction and fantasy--demand such awareness to depict a credible milieu the characters are living in from the first word. So, that’s a given.

My concept of planning deals with the “Big Picture” of the entire plot. That is not instinctual patterning like a spider demonstrates. Nope, it is a learned skill, the practice of connecting one event to its consequences in as enthralling and challenging a manner as possible. It is intentional progression, not seat-of-the-pants guessing that can frequently lead a writer to dead-ends and the dreaded “I don’t know what happens next.”

The key words here are “logical causality” sprinkled with the magic spice of “What if” lists. Plotting Fiction can be as easy as identifying the timing and placement of the signpost events and wording the pattern of the web the characters must tread to arrive at their ultimate destination.

So, come on, Writer, and let’s learn the skills of spinning a web that captures a reader!
Sally J. Walker, Website: www.sallyjwalker.com
Sally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, several creative writing textbooks, stage plays, poetry, and many magazine articles on the craft of writing, including staff contributions to two international film magazines. She has a YA series and several children's books waiting in the wings. With 28 screenplays written and one sold, Sally has a WGA-signatory agent representing her. In addition to long time active memberships in such national writing organizations as RWA, WWA and SCBWI, she was President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild 2007-2011.She still has time to work as a small press Editorial Director for The Fiction Works, in charge of acquisitions and supervising sub-contracted editors. Sally has taught writing seminars, both on-site and on-line, for over 25 years and is the facilitator for the weekly meetings of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston, NE.
I hope you will join my class on
Hosted by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers
This 4 WEEK class starts January 14, 2013
For more information click HERE


Friday, December 14, 2012

WORLD BUILDING with Donna Steele

Asked to write about craft? Me? I feel like a fraud, but I'm going to attempt it. Yes, I've been writing for decades, but not for anyone else to actually see, or heaven forbid, read! I wrote for myself for a long time. I created worlds and situations that appealed to me, the kind of thing I could never find at the bookstore. So I did it myself. 

Then it all hit the fan - vampires, shape shifters, aliens, mermen and women, time travel. Thank goodness and where have you been all my life? I usually stuck to science fiction and paranormal myself - I've always wanted to peek inside the head of whoever is talking to me to see if they really believe what they're saying or if they're just checking out that man/woman behind me. 

Okay, every author has to do it, whether they are writing regency or contemporary or steampunk, but those of us that write in science fiction, paranormal or fantasy, really have to do it. For the kind of thing we write, the sky is most definitely not the limit. 

There are as many ways to build a world as there are authors out there. J. K. Rowling took a normal world and added her twist. Stephen King uses even less of a twist, which is why it's so damn scary. But I especially loved Larry Niven. That man took me places I could never have imagined and made it such fun.  

Not all of us are math whizzes or physics geeks, but that doesn't mean we don't know how to create a world. That's where the creative part comes in. Where would you go in your flight of fantasy? What would be the most important aspect of that place? Can you breathe - underwater or out in space. What's the first thing you see? What do you hear? Does anyone else see what you do? Are you taking notes yet? Our minds are boundless and when we let them run free, look at all the trouble, uh no, look at all the fun things they can create.

And there are no rules. Isn't that the best part? I lurked on a thread a short while ago where someone was asking if werewolves were able to do something, I don't even remember what and the discussion continued for a long time before a brave soul finally stepped up and said, hey, it's your story. Do you want them to be able to do it, because it's fiction, and they aren't real. I was ready to applaud. It is your story and you make the decisions because it's yours. And you can write what you want to read. You aren't the only one that likes that stuff. 

Go for it, if you can imagine it, someone out there already wants to read it. I'll end with a quote from someone who didn't write FF&P - 

Dreams, Books, are each a world; and books, we know, Are a substantial world, both pure and good
- William Wordsworth

More About the Author
I’d love to say I’m able to write full time.  Unfortunately my real life demands attention worse than my kids when they were toddlers. Ever since I learned to read I’ve wanted to write. Maybe it was just to escape that "real life" but I managed it! I finally got up the courage to submit a few things and I’m delighted that I finally get to share my passion with you. I write science fiction and mild paranormal usually with an eco-twist, though I am indulging in some contemporary women's fiction. My premiere novel, Rth Rising, was released on March 3, 2012. Learning Trust came out June 7. My women's fiction novel, Homecoming, was recently released. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, FF&P and the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. Find out more at:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Million Words and Growing by MM Pollard

One Million Words and Growing: Here’s How English Got All of Those Words

By MM Pollard, editor with Black Velvet Seductions

I was researching the English language for a workshop and hit on this bit of information on The Global Language Monitor (http://www.languagemonitor.com/no-of-words/). 

Number of Words in the English Language: 1,013,913, estimate of number of words on January 1, 2012 

Impressive number, isn’t it? Wonder why English has more words than other languages? 

Invasions: Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, Norwegians -- all before 1066. These invaders brought their language with them. Over time, these languages mixed to form Anglo-Saxon. 

1066: William of Normandy invades England and declares that the official language of England is Norman French. Court and law proceedings are conducted in the French dialect, adding many French words to our language.

The good news for English is that the peasants didn’t stop using Anglo-Saxon or Old English to talk to other peasants. 

1399: Henry IV takes the English crown and declares English is the official language of England – we call that language Middle English. By the time Henry embraces English, the language has gone through a process of simplification, dropping most inflections from nouns and adjectives. 

Exploration and trade: William the Conqueror was the last to invade England. As England grew in power and prestige, its kings and queens invaded other lands. They conquered first, borrowed words second. The English weren't snobby when it came to foreign words. English absorbed many foreign words with little change in pronunciation. Whom the English couldn't conquer, they traded with. More words flowed into the language.
Renaissance: The Age of Enlightenment brought a renewed interest in Greek and Latin. Many words using Greek and Latin prefixes and roots were added to English during the late 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Most of these words faded away, though, maybe because scholars created them to sound smart. English already had words that meant the same thing as these new words, so they weren’t needed. Shakespeare added two to three thousand words to the language during this period, also. 
Technology: Today new words still enter English through scientific discovery and new technology. 

Of all the words I know, my favorite word is "word," because that's where language begins, with a word. 

Of all the words you know, what is your favorite word and why? 

ABOUT MM Pollard

As a copy editor for Black Velvet Seductions for three years and now acquisitions editor, MM Pollard reads many entertaining and thought-provoking stories. She also finds common mistakes in the fundamental skills of writing.

With fifteen years of experience teaching English serving as a resource of knowledge and a life-time love of teaching and of language, MM began presenting workshops in February, 2011. Her goal is to teach writers what they need to know about the writing craft so that they won’t need an editing service to correct their mistakes in these areas.

MM has helped many writers improve their language and writing skills through her fun workshops. She has presented workshops for many RWA chapters, Savvy Authors, Writers Online Classes, and in her own virtual classroom. MM is sure she can help you, too, master the fundamentals of English.

MM Pollard,  editor, Black Velvet Seductions


Saturday, December 8, 2012

BDSM for Writers by Dr. Charley Ferrer

With the popularity of 50 Shades, many authors are turning toward BDSM and the possibilities of adding Dominance and submission it into their story lines. First I think it's important to understand what BDSM actually stands for. It's actually an acronym for Bondage, Disciple, Sadomasochism. However within the lifestyle it's also a common term which identifies the power exchange and Dominance and submission relationships. Individuals who embrace a Master/slave relationship do not consider themselves part of the BDSM “mentality”, however, do consider themselves part of the D/s community. The fact is that there are various levels of BDSM, from the pleasure seeker who wants a little kink with his sex before he runs home to his wife/girlfriend, to the adrenaline junkie (major pain slut) who wants to push himself as far as he can go (think in vanilla terms those extreme sports guys/gals), to those that actually embrace Dominance and submission as a way of life; and even further, to those individuals who embrace a Master/slave relationships and live it 24/7. And we haven't even discussed the subset that follows Gorean beliefs. Wow, talk about totally different. (No one ever mentions them.)  

Contrary to popular belief, BDSM is not merely about Whips and chains. In many instances, toys are never used as the individuals, both Dominant and submissive, are interested in "service" and a spiritual and/or emotional connection. Also keep in mind that some Dominants do not use impact toys (Whips, Floggers, Paddles) to enforce their dominance but use a psychological impact--even Fear Play—never once laying a hand on the submissive. There are also those Dominants/Masters/Mistresses who use humiliation and extreme control, again never once lifting a finger. Plus many BDSM relationships don't involve sexual contact. I can go on and on in this topic however I'm sure you are getting the idea of how intricate and diverse the world of BDSM is.  

If you’re considering writing in this genre and want to create realistic characters which  will have your readers devouring your books and craving more, please join my upcoming  BDSM for Writers Basics workshop at FF&P starting January 2.  (sign up HERE )If you’re already writing in this genre, it’ll provide great insight to the emotional and   psychological connections man and women make. Plus we’ll be following up with a  BDSM—Advanced workshop in April.  And of course nothing speaks to the heart as steamy love scenes do. You may wish to consider joining me for a workshop on adding a little spice to your scenes (1/14-1/27 From Shyness to Steamy love scenes: sign up HERE). 

Please feel free to visit my website www.bdsmforwriters.com
and FF&P for more information on workshops being presented in 2013. Look forward to the wonderful opportunities the new Cosmic calendar reset will bring.    

Live with passion,  

Dr. Charley Ferrer

About the presenter Dr. Charley Ferrer:
Dr. Charley Ferrer is a world renowned Clinical Sexologist, BDSM Expert, and Psychotherapist who has worked in the psychology field for over 15-years. Doctor Charley is an award winning author with over nine books on sexuality and psychology. Her radio and television talk shows have been nominated for best Northeast Regional show. She has lectured throughout the US and overseas on sexuality and psychology issues. Doctor Charley has conducted various lectures geared specifically toward authors on the subjects of BDSM (Dominance and submission), psychology of a criminal minds and serial killers, and the psychology of victims/PTSD/multiple personalities to assist authors in creating more realistic characters and scenarios. These workshops provide authors with an understanding of the psychological and emotional motivations of an individual to help authors create credible depictions of their protagonists and the circumstances surrounding their interactions. Doctor Charley’s charismatic personality ensures each workshop is lively and informative. Participants leave with a sense of confidence and in-depth understanding of the topics discussed. Several authors have gone on to receive book contracts attributing their success to the valuable information received during one of her lectures

Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Effective Proofreading by Ally Broadfield

Once you finish writing a manuscript, what do you do? Edit until it shines, of course, but before you submit it to an agent or editor or self-publish it, don’t forget the final step: Proofreading. 

Consider the following paragraph: 

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. 

While this likely did not originate at Cambridge University and doesn’t hold true in all circumstances, it does illustrate the point that it’s easy to skim over spelling and typographical errors without noticing them, especially when you’re reading words you’ve painstakingly written and edited countless times. 

Whether you’re polishing your manuscript for a contest, preparing to submit to an agent or editor, or planning to self-publish, knowing how to effectively proofread your work is an essential skill. Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

Many people think proofreading and editing are the same thing, but in reality, they are very different. Think of editing as a cake, and proofreading as the icing on the cake. You spend a lot of time making that cake, greasing and flouring the pan, painstakingly measuring and mixing the ingredients, baking it for just the right amount of time, carefully removing it from the pan and cooling it on a wire rack. You’ve created a fabulous cake, but who’s going to want to eat it if you don’t put icing on the cake? Proofreading is the icing on the cake, the final stage of the editing process. It is limited to mechanical correctness and focuses on grammar, spelling, punctuation, typos, and syntax. 

Before you proofread, edit. You can’t frost the cake before it’s baked, can you? Your manuscript should be fully edited prior to proofreading. You’re probably thinking that by the time you finish editing, you will have caught all the proofreading errors. You probably did catch a few typos, but because you weren’t proofreading, you didn’t catch everything. Why? Because proofreading and editing require two different conceptual processes. Editing involves analyzing and reorganizing information into effectively expressed ideas. Proofreading requires separating the components of language from any meaning so the brain doesn’t allow you to see what you want to see rather than what is actually there on the page.  

Tips for More Effective Proofreading 

1.      Practice

Have you ever been in the middle of reading a blog or online news article when you notice a typo, a missing apostrophe, a sentence you would have written differently? Practicing your proofreading skills on other people’s work is a great way to improve your skills. It’s a fun, active way to become more conscious of the process. 

2.      Get Some Distance

If you have the time, let your finished work sit for a while. In his book On Writing, author Stephen King recommends a minimum of two to three weeks. Looking at it from a fresh perspective will make a huge difference in your ability to catch errors. 

3.      Get a Different Perspective

Printing out your work will often help you get the different perspective you need to catch errors, but if you’re working on a long manuscript, it’s a tremendous waste of resources. Oftentimes changing the font style, size, and/or color will help you get a different perspective. Also try reading it on your ereader, netbook, phone, or other device that will make it look different than it did on your computer.  Anything that changes the way it looks will help you see it from a new perspective.  

4.      Read It Out Loud

If I could only share one tip with you, this would be the one. Reading your work out loud forces you to focus on what’s actually written on the page instead of skimming over it like you do when you read in your head. It will help you detect errors in punctuation, syntax, rhythm, flow, and a myriad of other issues. Hearing your work read out loud without having the written words in front of you can also be helpful. Record yourself reading aloud, or try using the read aloud function on your computer or ereader.  

5.      Know What You Don’t Know

Look at proofreading as a learning experience. When you proofread, you’re not just looking for errors you recognize. You also need to learn to identify errors you didn’t know you were making. If something looks or sounds wrong, look it up. If you’re not sure about something, look it up.  

The tips in this article come from a lesson in my workshop, Tips and Techniques for More Effective Proofreading.
Ally Broadfield is a grammar geek and freelance proofreader. She writes young adult/middle grade fantasy and historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia. You can find her here:  

I hope you will join my class on
Tips and Techniques for More Effective Proofreading
Hosted by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers
This 4 WEEK class starts January 14, 2013
For more information click HERE

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Interview with SOURCEBOOKS Editor Leah Hultenschmidt

Please welcome Leah Hultenschmidt, a senior editor acquiring YA and romance. She has agreed to answer questions in order to give you a new perspective from the other side.
Please tell our readers about the publisher you represent. 
Sourcebooks is the largest woman-owned publisher in North America and releases a wide array of fiction and nonfiction in print and ebook with distribution around the world.  Our Casablanca romance imprint is home to the works of classic favorites such as Georgette Heyer, Laura Kinsale and Victoria Holt, as well as rising bestseller stars such as Grace Burrowes, Terry Spear and Julie Ann Walker.  
Names we have all heard of! Do you have any rejection stories to share? Like a manuscript you passed on that turned into a best seller?
I remember when I was a relatively new assistant, a manuscript came in the mail with no cover letter or note of any kind with it—just the author’s name and address at the top of the first page.  I skimmed through the first couple of chapters, but couldn’t discern that it was a genre we published. So I filled out a rejection note and sent it off. A day or so later, I’m looking through trade magazines and see a familiar-looking name—the author of the mystery manuscript I had rejected. Who was apparently the head of a major writers organization.  I immediately came clean to the editor, and fortunately everyone was a really good sport about it. 
But lesson to authors: no matter whom you address to (even in email), you never know who’s going to open your work. And with so many editors forwarding submissions to ereaders these days, I also highly encourage a file name that has the full title of the project and the first page with all author and agent info. 
What is your weekly routine like?
Every day is different, which is one thing I love about my job.  Here’s a sample of my to-do list from yesterday: review author revisions and turn over ms to Production for a September 2013 romance, compile revision notes and send to author for a November 2013 release, consult with author on a title change, make offer for YA project, follow up on outstanding offer for a romance project, check through a copyedit, review a contract that just came back from an agent, prepare launch material (description, comparison titles, key selling points) for recently acquired YA project. YA marketing and publicity meeting at 12:30. Romance strategy meeting at 3:30. 
Other days may also include writing cover copy, writing/reviewing catalog copy, returning agent phone calls, prepping research information, reviewing sales numbers, prepping projects for our acquisitions meetings (and reading my colleagues’ projects) and a host of other things.  Most of my editing is done on weekends, though I try to make time for it in the office when possible.  And most of my submission reading is done on the subway to and from the office.
Whew! I thought choosing the next book was all there was to it! Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My mom read to my brother and me every night.  I remember The Wind in the Willows was a particular read-aloud favorite.  But it was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables that sealed the deal.
For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter; synopsis; an agent’s submission; etc.
The query is what gets me most excited to read a project.  Does it sound interesting?  Is it a story I don’t think I’ve read before? Does it immediately make me want to dive in?  Then I go to the first chapters and hope the writing lives up to the story.  I want to be teased in—make me want to keep reading.
What is the biggest no no you see in submissions that makes you reject them?
A story that I feel like I’ve already heard is kiss of death. Really work on defining the hook that sets your work apart. And then make sure that open is fascinating and intriguing.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
All it takes is one yes. And every editor’s taste is different.
How can our readers find your submission guidelines? 
Our guidelines are online at http://www.sourcebooks.com/resources/submissions-guidelines.html. I’ll also be at a number of conferences this year, including Windy City, the Washington DC writers retreat, Romantic Times, BEA, and RWA to name a few.
Leah Hultenschmidt is a senior editor at Sourcebooks, acquiring romance and YA.  In her twelve years in the industry, she has worked with a number of bestselling authors across a variety of genres. Her favorite mottos: “When in doubt, cut it out.” and “Live. Love. Read.” Follow her on Twitter @LeahHulten.