Come Alive!!

Rose's Colored Glasses

May 2007 Newsletter

 

What's Inside?

Announcements!
Techie Corner
Body Language
Theme-Part One
Query - 1..2..3!
Dear Rose-Head Hopping

Announcements!

What's New in the World of the Roses?

Check out the workshops and
celebrate with our successes

World Building

 

 

Where do you start?
Building your world & choosing your weapons
Reader Connection & Believability

May 20-26
Register by
May 19th!

Myla Jackson and Delilah Devlin are pleased to announce Jacq's Warlord will be coming to print from Ellora's Cave in time for RWA Nationals in July
Myla Jackson is pleased to announce that Trouble with Harry and Trouble with Will will be coming to print from Ellora's Cave in time for RWA Nationals in July
Delilah Devlin is pleased to announce Silver Shadow will be coming to print from Ellora's Cave in time for RWA Nationals in July
Delilah Devlin is pleased to announce the sale of a short story to Harlequin Spice
Shayla Kersten is pleased to announce that Cost of Eternity, will be coming out in print from Ellora's Cave in time for RWA Nationals in July
Elle James is pleased to announce her sale of another Harlequin Intrigue it will be the 4th book in theReturn to Beacon Manor continuity, to be released in August of 2008
Delilah Devlin and Myla Jackson are pleased to announce the sale of Alluring Tales - Hot Summer Nights to Avon Red coming to bookstores near you in the summer of 2008
Layla Chase's erotic novella Wager of Seduction is a May release from Amber Quill

 

Techie Corner
by Shayla Kersten

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

Old Will sure knew his stuff. But does that apply to an email address? In today's technological world, electronic communication is almost mandatory within the writing world. As an author, my email address is not just a means of communication. It's part of my persona. Regardless of what I'm emailing, I want readers, editors, agents and other authors to recognize my name when they see it.

toohotforyou @ hotmail.com

If my email address was "toohotforyou @ hotmail.com", I don't think people would take me as serious as "shayla @ shaylakersten.com". The second email buys me name recognition and the domain shows a serious commitment to my writing career. If you are just starting out and haven't settled on a domain name yet, then "shaylakersten @ yahoo.com" works as well. Many ISP providers allow you more than one email address so you could also use your penname with their domain at no extra cost.

Some writers, especially futuristic or science fiction authors, use an email or domain associated with the world they created. This is a great way to promote a series.

domain addresses vs yahoo addresses

I use two main email addresses. My domain address is for professional groups such as Romance Writers of America. I also use it for communication with my editors and any emailed inquiries or submissions. My Yahoo address is primarily used with email loops for readers, writers and reviewers. Separate accounts help keep me organized.

So pick an email address that people will associate with you or your writing. It's never too early to promote yourself.

When a Look Isn't Enough
Body Language Revealed, Part 1

By Layla Chase


When creating first drafts, I often have characters 'look' or 'gaze' at each other, knowing I will substitute more descriptive words in revision. Through the use of precise words, I control the depiction of a character's emotion or the mood of the scene.

Naturalist Charles Darwin armed 19th century missionaries with a set of 16 questions to aid his research on discovering if body language was innate or learned behavior. With data collected from throughout the world, he discovered that basic emotions are expressed with relative similarity.

The six basic emotions

Happiness -- smiling mouth and crinkles around the eyes
Sadness (crying) -- raised brows, lowered upper eyelids, and down-turned mouth
Anger -- eyes have a penetrating stare and the lids tense, brows are lowered, lips pressed together or open and pushed forward
Disgust -- wrinkled nose and raised upper lip, lower eyelid is pushed up and brows are lowered
Surprise -- raised brows, eyes & mouth wide open (hands flying to cheek signals the person is stifling the reaction)
Fear -- raises & draws brows together, eyes are open & tense, lower lid is raised, month is open and lips draw back tightly

Most people provide conversational signals when they listen. Nods, smiles, widened eyes or puzzled frowns are used to demonstrate the listener's attentiveness. Conversely, a blank expression or a broad yawn may discourage the speaker from continuing.

Differences Between the Sexes

Women are more adept at recognizing the emotion of facial expressions, but less able to discern when someone is hiding their true feelings.

Women smile more than men, often smiling when tense or uncomfortable. They also show their teeth more often as a smile of greeting.

A woman smiling with a closed mouth shows she is ready to be kissed, but smiles with teeth showing when she initiates the kiss.

Men blink faster and more regularly than women, but if they control their blinking, they create a more powerfully masculine impression.

The Eyes Have It

Normal glances are brief. Conversations start when eye contact is made (speaker may prompt this by saying "excuse me"). Usually the speaker looks away first. To show attentiveness, the listener looks at the speaker for ¾ of the time, using brief glances lasting 1-7 seconds. Speaker maintains intermittent contact to retain attention. If eye contact is not established, listener will find interrupting more difficult.

When encountering a stranger, we look less often and for shorter periods of time. We look at people we like more than those we don't. Returning a long, uninterrupted gaze heightens sexual arousal and continued gazing states your interest in the other person. A giveaway of sexual interest is the widening of the pupils. Since this is not a voluntary response, the only way to hide this interest is to look away, which over the centuries has become an action associated with flirting. Courtesans knew the power of this wide-eyed gazing and used belladonna drops in their eyes to produce this look.

Keeping these facts in mind when you write will add new meanings to your scenes.

Theme - Part One
What is it? What does it do? How do you find it?
by Megan Kerans


Theme is more than a word thrown out by your high school English teacher. Theme is a key component of your story. If plot makes up the bones of your story, then theme is the DNA. Theme may be the most difficult craft concept for writers to understand and use effectively without sounding "preachy."

If it's so hard, why care?

Probably everyone reading this has a favorite book on the keeper shelf that "spoke to them." For some, the impact of a powerful story message is life changing. Most writers dream of penning a work whose impact leaves a lasting impression on its readers, more than a wonderful, message they take away. That's theme! When used correctly with great characters, a solid plot, strong dialogue and the many other craft components, theme makes a good book a great book.

What is Theme?

In the most basic explanation, theme is the main idea. But that definition really doesn't do theme justice. Lots of ideas exist, plans to build a super spaceship or create a recipe for the world's best chocolate cake. Those are ideas, but are they themes? No.

Theme isn't any old idea. Theme is a universal truth or concept the majority of the world believes is true or wants to be true. Some examples are:

Love Conquers All
Never Judge A Book By Its Cover
Good Always Triumphs Over Evil

My built-in Apple dictionary says theme is, "An idea that reoccurs in or pervades a work of art or literature." Theme is different than the actions (plot) your character takes. Actions happen once; afterwards based on the results, your character takes a new action. Below are two examples of actions:

Elizabeth walks into her office building for her first day at her new job.
No matter how many times she goes to work during your story, there will never be another first day at this job and each trip into her office will never be 100% identical. A theme in contrast will always be the same exact message/universal truth and will show itself again and again.

Quinn pulled the trigger, but the rifle jammed. He threw the weapon aside, fired his pistol and shot the attacker charging towards him.
While in the above scenario, Quinn fired a gun more than once, the circumstances under which he acted changed, as did the results. So, his firing the gun is an action, not a theme.

If we put together the two explanations they tells us, theme is a universal truth the repeats throughout a story. Good, except the definition still isn't complete. Jason Surrell in Screenplay by Disney gives us the missing piece. Theme answers the question, "What does the story mean?" The lesson is what the character and audience learn as a result of the character's journey and actions.

Remember Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie? He learns to fight like Jedi, rescues a princess, gets stuck in a garbage bin, watches his mentor murdered, and finally trusts his Jedi skills and uses them instead of his x-wing fighter's computer to destroy the Death Star. Through all those actions he learns to believe in something bigger and in himself. The belief he learns is the theme.

Finding lost treasure, saving the princess, or getting the right job is the plot of the story. Theme is what the characters and audience take away from the journey.

A final definition of theme

A universal truth repeated through a story and the message or lesson learned by the characters and readers.

When we break this down into the craft elements of a story. Plot is what happens. Character is the who it happens to. And theme is the why/ lesson learned by the character and reader.


Part Two explores what themes exist and what they do for your story.

Confused? Still have questions? Or just want to talk and put forth your own ideas about theme? Post to the Roses' Colored Glasses Yahoo Group where I and other Roses will be happy to chat and answer questions. Don't be shy! We love to talk writing!

QUERY - 1..2..3!!!
By Elle James

Are afraid of Query Letter? Do they make you pull your hair out when you have to write one? Does the fact that a query letter is the first line of rejection completely paralyze you? I was that way too. Until I attended a Query Letter Workshop conducted by Kate Duffy from Kensington at an RWA National Conference a few years ago. The short workshop made a profound impression on me and how I write my query letters. What I got our of her workshop was the three easy steps to writing a great query letter.

Step 1: THE INTRODUCTION

In the introduction, tell the editor or agent what your project is. Tell her how long the manuscript is, or how long you project it to be and what line it will fit within the publishing house. If you've met the editor at a conference and she requested that you send the proposal, let her know. Make this section very short. The important stuff is in the body of the letter.


Dear Kate (or Ms. Duffy),
As requested at the 2007 RWA Conference, you'll find enclosed the synopsis and first three chapters of my 90,000-word, romantic comedy DIFFERENT WAVELENGTHS, written for the BRAVA imprint.

Step 2: THE BODY

Kate Duffy is very blunt and to the point about what she likes and doesn't. The one piece of advice that jumped out at me was that a query letter should read like the blurb on the back of a book.

What will make that editor want to read that manuscript just based on the query letter? What makes a consumer buy that book? The answer is usually the blurb on the back of the book or in the body of your query letter. When I got home from the conference, I took four of the books I brought back with me and within an hour had four query letters that were better than any I'd written in the past. I looked at the back of the books on my shelf to see, first of all, which ones interested me most and then I wrote query letters in a similar fashion using the premise of my books. For some strange reason, it was so easy! Here is an example of a blurb I came up with for one of my projects titled: DIFFERENT WAVELENGTHS:

Upper crust Diane Denton is determined to make it on her own in a profession her parents don't approve of--talk radio. Happy with her mildly successful home-and-garden show, she is comfortable with her life and fiancé. Or is there something missing?

Rip O'Rourke is the missing link between the man of your dreams and a total disaster. A rebel without a cause, Rip prides himself in bucking the establishment with his own version of the "Man Show" on radio. His goal in life is to see the stiff and proper Diane rumpled, certain that buried beneath her starched exterior is a passion worth broadcasting.

When the radio station is bought out, they are forced to work together to come up with a solution to sagging ratings. From the sparks that soon ignite into flames is born the radio sensation Different Wavelengths, a show discussing the differences between men and women--more aptly described as the battle of the sexes.

Let that blurb shine, displaying a taste of your writing voice. This is the meat the editor is looking for. The tiny taste of your writing talent. Will it grab her and make her look farther?

Step 3: WRAP UP

Be sure to tell the editor how complete the manuscript is. If you're a new author, the editor may not look at it unless it's a full manuscript. The other thing Kate Duffy mentioned was she could really care less about whether or not you were a member of different organizations. That didn't tell her whether or not you could write. Your writing style will come through on the query and in the synopsis. However, I would list at the bottom of the letter if the manuscript has won any awards in contests and whether you've published anything elsewhere (non-fiction articles). If you have a background that makes you an expert for the subject of your book, now's the time to mention it. For example, if you're writing a medical thriller, are you a doctor or a nurse? If so, let the editor know. Again, make this part short and to the point. Tell the editor you'd be glad to send her a (fill in the blank: full manuscript, partial) at the end and viola!

Good luck writing those Query Letters!

Dear Rose

My critique partners say I head-hop POV. How do I fix that?

Multiple Personalities

Dear Multiple,

First, let's define head-hopping. Pure single Point of View (POV) is found in any story written in First Person (me, myself, I). Absolutely everything is experienced through the emotions of that one person, the narrator. Most novels though are written in third person with the deep POV so the reader can see the internal struggle the character experiences in achieving personal growth. In romance novels, the heroine and hero have the most frequently used POVs. Usually a scene is done from the viewpoint of a single character. Everything that happens in the scene revolves around the actions and decisions of the single character.

For example: The heroine is trying to decide whether or not to tell the hero his parents are cheating at the card game they are playing. While she's debating to herself, the reader goes with her into her thoughts. When she bites her lip while she's thinking, the reader feels the sting of her teeth clamping down on the tender skin. The hero, across the table, sees her biting her lip and knows she's worried about something. She decides to stop the card game and confront his parents about the cheating.

In that example, the scene started in the heroine's POV, then jumped to the hero's thoughts, then back to the heroine's decision. That's head-hopping.

This is not to say head-hopping is a bad thing. Some editors insist on head-hopping. Some writers do it consistently. Nora Roberts does it in all her books. Her army of fans loves the way she deepens the emotional conflict by showing multiple viewpoints in the same scene.

Few of us have Ms. Roberts' skill.

Most writers cannot keep the reader emotionally connected to a character when head-hopping between characters. When that emotional connection is severed, the reader is jerked from the story. Notice in the example, the reader doesn't know how or even why the heroine made her decision. The reader never saw her emotional turmoil and what factors she had to weigh to reach her decision. The writer has cheated the reader of the learning experience of the heroine's internal struggle to grow.

With practice and skill, an author can enrich a single scene with multiple points of view. For the vast majority of writers, it's best to keep the POV changes to the natural breaks in the story be it a scene break or a chapter break. The story tends to flow more smoothly and evenly when written in per scene single POV and will keep the reader emotionally involved in the characters. However, if an editor insists on head-hopping, then the correct answer is, "Yes, I can rewrite it that way."

Rose