Thursday, September 29, 2011

RWA Online Synopsis Class

I recently joined RWA Online since I don't live near an Romance Writers of America chapter. They offer some pretty good writing classes. A few weeks ago I took a class on voice by Jeannie Lin, and thought it was very helpful. In addition, you can pay a small fee of $15 through Paypal to take one of their classes without joining RWA and RWA Online. 

Anyway, On October 3rd - 14th, Susan Palmquist is teaching a class for those of us who need to work on our synopsis writing skills:

About the Class:
  1. Learn why a good synopsis is like giving a great job interview
  2. Learn why it's a must have skill for every writer
  3. Learn what makes a good synopsis
  4. Learn what should always be included
  5. Learn what tense a synopsis should be written in and how it should be formatted
  6. Learn to write both a short and long synopsis
  7. There will be mini exercises after each lesson and two major exercises at the end of each week.

 If you are interested into signing up go to Click on "Forums" on the right panel.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I went to David Wolverton's (pen name David Farland) Professional Writers Workshop in St. George Utah. Above is the class photo. I'm the one in the pink shirt, front row, second from the end on the right. David is wearing the black T-shirt in hte middle. It was a blast!
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Watching Willow Watts Book Launch

Ok, I'm a little late for the blog fest, but it's still Wednesday in Utah! I'm promoting Talli Roland's book launch of Watching Willow Watts, and Talli asked us to answer the question, if you could be anyone, who would it be. I think I'd like to be Jane Austin. How auspicious to be a brilliant woman in her day, and publish books under her own name no less!

Go to Talli's blog to learn  more about her wonderful book!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Writer's Voice

I took my writing teacher to lunch one day and asked him if he thought my writing was any good. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "You have a wonderful voice." That made me happy, of course, but I had a lot of questions. What, exactly, is a writer's voice? How do you get it? How can you make it better?

Active writing - using the five senses, a riveting opening, showing rather than telling, good grammar - are all mechanics of writing and are necessary to be taken seriously, but your voice tells a story like no one else can. How do you learn to make it shine? A writer, like a singer, must learn how to amplify her natural voice, and make it stand out as if no other person could have possibly written it.

Deep editing can help you discover it. Some tips for the revision process:

  1. Find the sentences that stand out. What makes them unique?
  2. Mark-up phrases that are cliche or dull writing. How can you change your language to be more like #1?
  3. Rearrange sentences or words for a stronger impact.
  4. Run your ideas past a critique partner. Do they see a difference?
#amwriting everyone!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Editing Tips

Once you've completed your manuscript (I should probably refer to it as a draft), editing is the most important thing you can do. I follow David Farland - if you're not signed up to receive his daily kicks, I highly recommend it (, and a lot of my editing knowledge has come from his advice. This post will focus on editing out specific words:

  1. Edit for passive voice. Look for every "was" in your MS and ask if you can reword it. I must admit, I've never been able to remove all my was words, but in a focused edit, I can usually get rid of 60 - 70% of them. For example, think about "He was sitting" versus "He sat" - there's only a slight difference here, but you get into the action in fewer syllables, and the verb in the second passage is "sat" the verb in the first passage is "was". The second passage puts the reader in the action and this is an easy edit that will strengthen your writing.
  2. Edit out suddenly. If something is suddenly happening, show it. Put the reader in the action. For example "he suddenly felt fear" vs. "Looking up, his heart flew up to his throat, his mouth dry..." The second passage puts the reader in the scene. They can feel the fear themselves.
  3. Avoid finally. Using the word finally indicates that you might be using a lot of words to describe how the character did something, which could be unnecessary.
  4. Using the word "then" might indicate that you're telling the events in a chronological sequence that could be on the nose. Edit for "this happened then that."
  5.  Last thing I'll mention in this post is to avoid word/sound replications. I do this all the time when I'm writing a draft, and it's easy to edit out - just keep a good thesaurus on hand!
  6. Last week Blogger, Colby Marshall, suggested editing out her crutch words, get and just...definitely a good idea. You can follow Colby at
I hope this tip helps...Oh, and I'm trying to sell my new MS, Chihuahua Momma. I've got a couple pictures of my Chi's at the bottom of my blog, but I thought I'd start adding them to my posts...they're a big part of my life!

Poco, Austin, Tut and Maya

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Word Count and Contemporary Romance

After finishing my contemporary romance manuscript, CHIHUAHUA MOMMA, I researched word count through the RWA and Harlequin web sites. Though I was in the ball park, I thought I might be a little shy. A single-title romance should be 90,000 - 110,000 words (generally speaking).

So how can you beef it up?
  1. Ensure you have enough description. This doesn't mean bore your audience, but ensure that the reader gets a good picture of the setting. After all, setting should be a "character" in your manuscript.
  2. Look for places where you're telling - maybe trying to move the story along too fast, and change your scene to showing.
  3. Look at pacing - as above, does your writing appear rushed (or too drawn out)? Do you have cliff hangers at the end of each scene?
  4. Are your characters fully developed? Do you know their innermost worries, their desires, their fears? Knowing your characters will ensure they have thoughts that define them, speak words from their hearts. Spending time understanding your characters will take a good novel to a great novel.
What other ways do you enhance your writing? Comments welcomed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Join the Labor Day Weekend BBQ Blog!

Coming Down the Mountain: A Writer's Blog: It is NOW! Come to KarenG's Labor Day BBQ and Find...: Come on over! Bring your food and your friends and join the fun-- It is time for the second annual KarenG's Labor Day Blog BBQ! Last year's ...
I'm bringing Wisconsin brats (bratwurst)! What will you bring to the Labor Day weekend BBQ?