Celebrating Seasoned Romance – Why?

~ Nan Reinhardt Note: This post originally appeared here. I’m bugged. It seems that romance novels are the bailiwick of characters who are younger than 40. If 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, then how come romance after 50 isn’t sexy anymore? Well, folks, I’ve got big news–sexy is timeless. Excuse me, but two words, Pierce Brosnan. Sean Connery? Jeff Bridges? Denzel Washington, anyone? Richard Gere? My husband? And as far as sexy women are concerned–want to talk about Susan Sarandon? Sophia Loren? Goldie Hawn? Helen Mirren? Tina Turner? Me? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)...

Austen’s Universal Appeal

~ By Marilyn Brant  Note: This post originally appeared here. When I was a fourteen-year-old high school freshman in the 1980’s, my English lit teacher had the audacity to foist a supposedly romantic novel on our class. The story took place in Regency England and was considered a “classic,” which I figured was literary shorthand for “deadly dull, full of obscure symbolism, and probably selected by the members of the department while drinking too much spiked punch at a staff holiday party.” After listening to our teacher’s introductory lecture on the book and its author, I was underwhelmed. So, I...

What I Screw Up

~ By Laura Trentham  All right folks, we are about to get down and dirty with sentence mechanics here… If you’ve gone through the editing process with a good editor, this post might not apply, but if you haven’t, then read on. I’m going to talk about two bad habits I am still learning to shake—Autonomous body parts (Abp’s) and Simultaneous actions (SA). I’ve learned these abbreviations by heart because I saw them so much from my editor☺. I still struggle with this in my first drafts, but at least now I can recognize and fix them before shipping them...

Backstory vs. Exposition

~ By Mellanie Szereto A lot of agents and editors comment about submissions they’ve rejected because the author either opened with page after page of backstory and no action or had a great opening action scene followed by pages of backstory. Some of the contest entries I’ve judged have had similar issues. How much Backstory is too much? And what is Exposition? You’ve thought of a fantastic idea for a story, so you start getting to know your characters. If you’re a Plotter, you might create a character bio, listing physical characteristics of your hero/heroine and finding the perfect celebrity...

GOAL SETTING FOR 2018 – GET SMART

~ By Katina Drennan  Out with the old, in with the NEW, right? For most of us, the NEW means setting NEW writing goals for the coming year. Some of us have been at this a while and we know what works for us and what doesn’t. But many of us go about this task with “fear and loathing”. This year, I’m borrowing from my past. As a safety consultant, I taught my clients how to set SMART goals, and darned if they don’t apply to writing as well as accident prevention. How do you know if your goals are...

The New Year’s Goal Advice You Don’t Want but Probably Need

~ By Nicole R. Locker The beginning of a new year is so exciting for some of us. People stop to reflect on the previous year, what they’ve accomplished, and what goals they still want to achieve in the next 365 days to get them a little bit closer to that pie we’re all reaching for in the proverbial sky. To me, the New Year is like the ultimate Monday. You know what I’m talking about. Monday is that day of the week when some people I know start new diets, or that new workout program, or whatever the...

A Snowy, Holiday Writing Prompt

Hello, Contemporary Romance Fans! May the holiday season bring a lot of warmth, light, and good stories into your lives! We’ll be back in 2018 with posts that’ll help you kick-start your writing in the new year. But we’re not going to let you go without a writing prompt. Ready? Things are going really well for your protagonist and her new guy, and she’s been having a great time snuggling on the couch, drinking hot chocolate, and daydreaming. And then it snows, and everything is beautiful. She’s looking forward to a huge holiday dinner and is hoping to share...

Staying Sane as a Debut Writer

Do As I Say, and Not As I Do. ~ By Laura Trentham  I imagine every book has its own challenges, but your debut book is a special breed. Not only is it the first time you’re sending your words out for the masses to read, but it’s an unknown. Expectations are sometimes far from reality. I pinged a special group of women for input—the Golden Heart class of 2014, the Dreamweavers. If you’re every lucky enough to final in the Golden Heart, you come to understand these other women are kind of like your graduating class. All of you...

Reentry and Giving Yourself a Break

~ By Melina Kantor We hear it all the time. BICHOK. Want to be a writer? Write.  Writers write every day.  And of course, all of that is true. But I’ve got to confess something. I just finished a first draft of a story. I sat my butt down and put my hands on the keyboard for several hours for 29 days and won NaNoWriMo. For a month, my dogs were neglected. My refrigerator was empty. My nice gel manicure slowly peeled off, leaving me with broken nails. I was exhausted. And people were talking about starting revisions on December...

About Characterization. . .

~ By Mellanie Szereto I love stories with three-dimensional characters, both main and secondary. They draw me into the story, and I’m invested in their journeys. What makes a fully developed character? Characterization. Yes, the reader should have a general idea of the character’s physical traits, but I don’t necessarily mean a specific height, weight, eye color, and hair color rundown. Unless he/she is being described for a police report, these characteristics should be worked in without making the description obvious. Just as important as what the character looks like is how her life experience has influenced who she is,...

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