Aspiring Romance Writers

A place for those Aspiring to fulfill their dreams of being a published Romance Writer. We welcome all Aspiring writers but focus on Romance.


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Posted by Dominique Eastwick on November 2, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)

We have moved our Blog  CHECK IT OUT HERE> :)

Mia Catherine advice to Aspiring Writers.

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on April 18, 2013 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (2)

As I stand at the threshold of a new career, I look back at the strange and unplanned path I've taken to be here. Publication wasn't my goal when I began writing stories. I wrote for fun, for friendship, and to escape the daily grind. Somewhere along the way, my writing changed, and my goals grew.


Now that I've signed that first professional contract, I realize I have a similar history to other writers on the path, each step with its important lessons. Although I may have taken them out of order, each helped me to get to this point in my new career. Had I known the value of these steps a few years ago, perhaps I could have gotten here sooner. It was just the first thing I didn't know in a long list of things I didn't know.


That said, there are a few key experiences that propelled me into this crazy world of publishing.


1. Writers groups. I began writing amateur stories with a group of women with similar interests. Posting one chapter at a time helped because it gave me immediate feedback - what worked, what didn't work. The speculation of where the story would go helped me form the suspense. I've heard others call them writer's groups or critique groups. I guess this was my version of that.


2. A Beta Reader (editor) I made contact with an author whose work I truly admired. She is now one of my dearest friends and has helped my writing immensely. She is my perfect compliment, her strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa. She is brutally honest with her reviews of my work, but at the same time is unwaveringly supportive. She's the reason I'm here.


3. Literary Contests. Contests can be a wonderful way to get feedback on your manuscripts. Professionals, many who have the power to get your story published, judge these contests, and the entry fees are very reasonable. For $20-$30, you can have a number of pages critiqued for valuable feedback. Initially, my reason for entering that first contest was to support the above mentioned friend, but I was confident with my submission. I thought it was pretty good. Well, I didn't know what I didn't know. My entry was eviscerated-and rightly so. I've since learned the errors I was making are common; head hopping, over use of adverbs, too many words. Of course, I disagreed, until I entered the second contest-and received the same results.


4. Have confidence. Although I received some negative input, I also received a number of compliments-the biggest of which was that I had a nice voice. To hear praise from professionals gave me a wonderful boost of confidence, and motivated me to improve. I didn't get discouraged by the criticism, but chose to focus on the positive and use the critique to work on the things I needed to.


5. Classes. I took an online class. It was the best $16 I've ever spent in my life. I remember learning about point of view in English class during my primary school days (I won't mention how long ago that was), but it's not something I applied in my story. I went from one character's POV to the other in every paragraph, and I saw nothing wrong with that. I even argued, politely of course, with the teacher how I couldn't possibly change things. Wow, how wrong I was.


6. Became a book reviewer. Upon the recommendation of a teacher, I signed up to review books of other authors. Not only did it allow me to read to my heart's content for free, it's a fabulous way to learn more about the industry. I learned what I liked, what I didn't, and exposed me to genres I may not have otherwise read. It also helped me understand why my weaknesses, such as point of view, are so important. (and, yes, I even sent a note of apology to that teacher, thanking her for all I learned)


7. Practice, practice, practice. I revised and revised, and then entered two more contests. This time, the reaction was far different. Finishing at the top is much preferred to the bottom, but without those initial harsh critiques, I never would have done the work to improve. One judge was an associate editor and requested my full manuscript, and that eventually led to my breakthrough.


Everyone's experience is certainly different, but the steps I took to this point are similar to many, many others. Now, I look forward to the editing and release process. I'm still learning about the business side of publishing, and there is a lot to learn. I guess it's just more I don't know, but this time I know I don't know...


Mia-Catherine-FB 2

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You wrote the book. Now what? by Rebecca Royce

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on April 5, 2013 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (2)

You wrote the book. Now what?


I recently sat down with a woman dreaming of being a Romance Author. She’s talented, with great ideas, but has never been able to get published. So, we sat around and talked about what she was supposed to do next.


First of all, its important to note that there are lots of ways to get published these days. The traditional model of getting published is not the only way to go about it. Digital publishing changed everything and I happened to have made my career that way.


But I don’t want to talk about how to submit, where to submit, and how. I want to talk about taking a critique. One of the things I suggested to my new friend is that if she has never been read, never been edited, then she is not ready to submit.


An author needs very thick skin.


If you are a new writer or an unpublished one then you need to submit your work for an edit with a critique group. You need to hear from someone who may or may not know what the heck they are talking about that your book is just awful. Why? Because even if it is not awful someone out there is going to hate it after they read and you’d better be ready to let that roll off your back. No one likes everything and someone is not going to like what you’re doing.


Rejections are hard. If you don’t have a previous relationship with a publisher it can be hard to get your foot in the door. Its better if that moment is not the first moment you’re hearing no.


I guess that’s my advice. You’ve written a book? Don’t you dare submit it anywhere until you’ve had it torn apart. Its not ready and neither are you.



About Rebecca


As a teenager, Rebecca Royce would hide in her room to read her favorite romance novels when she was supposed to be doing her homework. She hopes, these days, that her parents think it was well worth it.

Rebecca is the mother of three adorable boys and is fortunate to be married to her best friend. They’ve just moved to Texas where Rebecca is discovering a new love for barbecue!

She's in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and tries to use all of these elements in her writing. She's been told she's a little bloodthirsty so she hopes that when you read her work you'll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. Rebecca loves to write series because she loves to see characters develop over time and it always makes her happy to see her favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.

In Rebecca Royce's world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.!/rebeccaroyce

 Rebecca Royce


So You've Written a Romance by Valerie Mann

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on April 1, 2013 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (11)

I am thrilled to have Author and Friend Valerie Mann here to kick off our first blog today.


So You’ve Written a Romance

by Valerie Mann


Congratulations! You’ve written a romance book! Undoubtedly, there’s a great plot, beautiful heroine, hawt hero and just the right amount of LUV. You think the cover is great and if you’re lucky, you’re still friends with your editor.

Got some news for you…


The writing’s the easy part. Now the fun really begins—PROMOTION.


Want to sell your beloved book? Do you want readers to fall in love right along with Miss Pretty and Mister Hottie? Then readers need to know they exist. And unfortunately, unless you’re a New York Times Bestselling author, your publisher is not going to do much in the way of promoting your book for you other than linking to it on their website.


I touched briefly on the topic of promotion (among other things) over at fellow author Rachel Leigh’s blog. This is an important topic…it never gets old.


So, without further ado, here’s a short list of what an author of any genre needs to do to get her books into the hands of readers:


1. Get a FACEBOOK page. It’s the number ONE social media site on the planet. Post

at least once per day to keep your author name exposed. Post about every single

thing that happens with your book like reviews, sales, etc. Working on a new book?

Let your followers know. Just signed a new contract? Ditto. Don’t worry about

boring anyone. The purpose of your Facebook is to promote your author self.


2. Get a BLOG. I like Blogger, it’s user-friendly and free. Wordpress and Webs are other

good choices. Both are free. Free is good. Then don’t forget to blog. Don’t know what

to blog about? Ask your author friends to guest blog. They love the free promo.

Follow other author’s blogs. There are a lot of very interesting things to learn from

other authors. And leave comments on their blogs. It gets your name recognized.


3. Join the online author group for your publisher. Join other groups for your genre. Join

lots of groups. You’ll figure out which ones are most helpful in short order. You can

even start your own group. Invite fellow authors and readers to join.


4. Get a Twitter account in your author name. Though I personally don’t care for Twitter

because I have too much to say in 140 characters, there are an awful lot of authors

who have great success with it. And a lot of people who buy books love Twitter.


5. Websites…pros and cons to websites. Pro—it’s one more place to have exposure.

Con—it’s one more place to have exposure. One more place you have to constantly

maintain. And if you don’t have good computer skills, it can be a time-consuming and

painful experience. Which means you’ll have to hire someone to create and maintain

it for you. Go back to #2…you can start with a Blogger or Wordpress blog and work

your way up from there. They’re becoming more acceptable for writers just starting

out to use as a website as well. But once you get established, you need a real website.


6. Find out if your publisher submits their releases to review sites. If they don’t, you

need to do it yourself. I own a review site, it gets lots of hits every day. Readers

find review sites valuable tools for determining which books they’re going to spend

their hard-earned money on. The more reviews you get, the more books you’ll sell.

And don’t forget to link back to those reviews on your Facebook, blog, website and



One last thing…not really necessary but I think every author should do it. Even if you don’t have a real website yet, go ahead and lease or purchase your domain name before someone else does. I use and I’ve leased every ValerieMann domain I can afford. GoDaddy will bundle them for you as a package, too. Another thing I did was register my author name with every free email provider. I only use one of them, but I have Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, Rocketmail, Live, etc. in my author name now. So nobody else can take them from me! I guess mom was right—I don’t like to share!


I hope this list of promotion and marketing ideas helps you. I’ve got tons more and I help companies and authors every day with ideas and strategies so they can sell, sell, sell. Feel free to email me with any issues you may have ~

Valerie Mann




Rejection...part of a writer's life by Fenella Miller

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on March 21, 2013 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (1)

After a long and much needed hiatus

Aspiring Romance Writers is back with its weekly blog. We are thrilled to have with us today Historical Romance Writer Fenella Miller. To talk about something we will all deal with at one time or another. 

Rejection – part of a writer's life.

When you first started writing possibly you had no intention of showing your work to anyone. You wrote for the pleasure of the process, the same way an artist paints a picture in the privacy of his home. He knows it is unlikely anyone apart will see his work – not many artists are lucky enough to get a public exhibition.


However, as you become more confident and gain experience the urge to send your work out to be assessed by professionals will arrive. Obviously no writer sends out a partial that isn't immaculate. You will have spent hours polishing every word, checking punctuation and presentation until you're quite certain it's good that you can get it. You decide to whom it's going to be sent, an agent or publisher, and away your baby goes.


Now comes the agonising wait to get feedback – perhaps a request to see the whole manuscript – or an encouraging letter telling you how much they liked your partial even if they couldn't take it on at the moment.


Unfortunately in the vast majority of cases you will receive a rejection. This can come in many forms. I had letters from agents which didn't even have my name at the top, a standard rejection form that makes you think they haven't even bothered to read it. There can also be that same form but with your name hastily scribbled at the top of the page and a word or two of encouragement inserted at the bottom. Even worse you might not hear at all; some agents and editors don't bother to reply to submissions if they don't like them.


All these are, in my opinion, far easier to cope than the rejection letter which is addressed to you and is actually commenting on your book. I've had several of these in my time. The agent/editor writes this letter because you have almost made it. It's hard to see this when you're reading a razor sharp dissection of your work. A letter of this sort is an excellent thing to get. It is usually full of helpful suggestions on how to improve your work and shows you have the talent to produce something publishable -even if this particular book isn't quite ready.


It's okay to be depressed, to shed a few tears, but don't let it put you off. Think of it as a positive step. Give yourself a couple of days to digest the rejection and then re-read the letter and implement as many of the suggestions as you think appropriate. Then send it out again or put it away for a month or two and get on with your next project.


Rejection is part of a writer's life. You have to develop a thick skin and have faith in your abilities. Well known writers such as JK Rowling were rejected a dozen times before eventually getting a deal. Just look at her now!


Good luck and keep writing



Fenella Miller


Lady Eleanor’s Secret Aurora Regency/ Aspen Mountain Press. April 2011


A Cornish Maid Aurora Regency/ Aspen Mountain Press March 2011


Miss Peterson & The Colonel Aurora Regency / Aspen Mountain Press February 2011

Pantsers vs. Plotters by Margie Church

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on March 6, 2013 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (18)

I am so pleased to have Author Margie Church here not only is she very talented but she is also an amazing person to chat with....the floor is all yours Margie.


Pantsers vs. Plotters

By Margie Church

I'm a Plotter and I don't want to stop. There, I said it out in public, on the Internet, convicted. LOL I'm one of those analytical types. I like communications planning and strategy. That's probably why I enjoy writing suspense novels and revel in romantic angst. I like to anticipate how I'll connect the dots before I draw them. Plotters work on storylines and characters the same way.


Plotting Plots

I don't make detailed storyline summaries in advance. I write an overall story arc to hit the highlights. I make specific notes about dilemmas in the plot that I want to expose and those I want to avoid—until the bitter end. (Yes, the Churchlady can laugh evilly.) If I foresee issues the characters must overcome, I make notes about those, too. Keep in mind your story may not always turn out the way you originally think. That's okay. Two of my books didn't end the way I planned, but I sure liked what happened. There's nothing wrong with having a brilliant idea along the way, but for me, plotting helps avoid rewrites.


For example, I may have put two killers on the scene and had one secretly get away. The cops don't know there were two people involved. They capture one. I get involved with writing what happens to that poor guy and forget I let one get away or that a cop said she spotted somebody else on the roof. I forgot the dropped hints! I've written myself into a corner! I have to fix it. Depending on the significance, I could be reworking a lot of the book. I'd totally hate that. You'll spend enough time on editing revisions; rewrites for plot problems isn't one you want to add to your "to do" list.


Plotting Characters

You want your primary characters to be 3D, vivid, memorable. For me, that means plotting them out. By the time I write the first paragraph, I have a pretty solid idea of what my hero and heroine are like. If there are other significant characters in the book, I've also got them clearly defined. How to do this? I start by imagining what the character is like. I make notes at first and then I research the information to gel it in my mind and write it down. Consider:


• Genealogy/ancestry

• Where do they live?

• What profession do they have/marital status (or goals in these areas)

• How old are they?

• What do they look like? I Google pictures with subjects like "Italian male hotties" to see what comes up. If I find a photo of the character I like, I save it for reference. I decide skin color; whether they have tattoos; hair color, length, and texture; eye color; height; other identifying marks (scars, limps, missing digits—whatever the story might call for); and what their build/shape is like. Nothing is worse than finding out your hero started with hazel eyes and ended with deep blue. Or everyone in the book is a brunette with brown eyes. Creating character profiles helps delineate one from another with unique identifiers. Writing it down helps eliminate mistakes.


• What do they sound like? Do they have an accent and if so, are you going to keep a list of the words they commonly use with their spellings? I'd suggest that. Do they have favorite words or phrases they like to use? I even write things such as: only swears in bed. Hates the word AWESOME, etc. Keeping track of this information keeps your character IN character.


• Are there any emotional triggers for a character I need to remember to work with? Sexual orientation, history of violence, or anything that will play into character motivations?


• Their name. I use baby naming websites. They're easy to find. If I've decided my hottie is Italian/Venezuelan heritage, then I'm going to find some combination of names that supports that. I look at the meaning of the names, too.


Consider nicknames. If you've decided your hero's name is Stephanopholus, remember you have to type it every time you use it AND your reader is going to have to come up with a pronunciation. Keeping a list of the names (first, last, and who they're related to) helps ensure you didn't come up with a whole cast of characters with names starting with C or K. Or that you accidently used the same name for two different characters that made cameo appearances.


Characters will evolve in the story and my descriptions can grow as I write but ultimately this information helps me write faster. I invest the time upfront and then refer to it quickly if I forget. All this background becomes invaluable if you write a sequel or a series.


I admire those who can write from first to last word without a safety net. I just don't happen to be one of them. I hope I've helped you decide your writing style and the Plotters support group is busy planning its 2011 calendar. Kidding!


Thanks for having me Dominique, and best wishes to all the writers who visit your terrific new blog.


Margie's website: Romance with SASS

Margie's blog:

Love Bites is available from Noble Romance as well as many other electronic retailers.


Author Know Thy People by Sloane Taylor

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on January 8, 2013 at 4:25 AM Comments comments (8)

I am thrilled to have here today an author I have a great deal of respect for, she is both talented and has a great sense of what a readers likes. So with out further ado Sloane take it away...


Hi, Everyone! 


Thank you, Aspiring Romance Writers, for allowing me to come out and share an important aspect of writing. And a huge thanks to all you members who take the time to read my suggestions.


Let’s get to it and talk about characterization and why it’s important to a well-written novel.


Please know characterization is not about the fool at your last holiday party everyone laughed at then dissected on the drive home. It’s the life of your hero, heroine, and all secondary characters beyond their height, weight, and eye color that brings them to the start of your book. Without characterization, you have no history to support your leads actions and reactions in any situation.


Now let’s get started on the road to create impressive and memorable characters.


Let’s do a cast call.


Starring Roles:

Johnny the Hero

Liz the Heroine


Supporting Cast:

Fred – Johnny’s best friend

Pam – Liz’s best friend

Marge – Johnny’s mother



Taxi Driver




Of the above group, the only roles needing a characterization are the stars and supporting cast. The Walk-Ons are too minor to worry about.


My mentor, Chicago crimewriter Beth Anderson, spent many a long night explaining why writing a characterization before you start a book is important. Since we don’t have forever here, I’ll crunch it down.


The writer must know the history of their characters. Their past events are what make them be the people they are today. It is what has driven them to be honest, strong, or steal. You won’t know why your hero runs into the burning building to save the heroine if you don’t understand his history.


So how do you so this? Very easy, but time consuming. Don’t fudge on this. It’s too important to writing a novel that will impress an editor.


The stars need an extensive characterization. Following is the process:


1 - Park yourself at your computer. Each characterization will take several hours so relax and enjoy.


2 - Choose one of the lead characters.


3 - Imagine you are that person. We’ll use Johnny for the example.


4 - Just type. Bang out his life starting at boyhood. Write in his voice. It’s amazing how your phrases will alter as he ages. Bring him up to the starting point of your novel and not a day later. Include every detail no matter how unimportant it may seem. Let your mind run on and you will be Johnny, living the high points of his youth and the lows and what drove him to the man where your story begins. You’re in Johnny’s point of view. Did he pee his pants in third grade? What really happened? What did he see, smell, and feel inside?


Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Just type. No one else will ever read your work.


Do this with your heroine as well.


You have finally finished your stars. It’s time to begin on your supporting cast. They’ll take much less time since they aren’t nearly as important. You don’t have to start in their childhood. Type up a brief bio, something similar to an obituary of a famous person.

I took Beth’s method one step farther to help me drop the back-story into my novel. Please remember, editors and readers HATE back-story written like a litany and shoved down their throats.


Below are the four easy steps:


1 – Print out each characters history.


2 – List all the highpoints on a separate sheet of paper. The order doesn’t matter.


3 - As you write your novel drop in a line or two of back-story at the appropriate time to enrich the action of your character. Do this as a memory, a comparison, or a single line of dialogue.


4 – Cross off the lines used and write next to them which page you’ve inserted it.

This method will help you build stronger characters with real motivation your reader and editor will love.


I did a fun interview for Aspen Mountain Press where all the lead females from my Naughty Ladies of Nice series jumped in to play. Not the easiest writing I’ve ever done, but still fun.


 Check it out at . I hope you enjoy it.


Please feel free to email your questions, comments and opinions to sloanetaylor @ (no spaces) with ARW in the subject line. I’ll get back with you in seconds because my leash doesn’t let me get far from my computer. 

Thanks for letting me bend your ear. I hope I’ve helped a bit in your success.

Happy Writing!

Sloane Taylor

Sweet as Honey…Hotter than Hell


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A Writer's Journey with Credit and Apologies to Christopher Vogler

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on September 26, 2012 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (2)

Today AWR is thrilled to welcome Marie-Nicole Ryan.

A writer's journey is at times difficult, fraught with frequent disappointment, and sometimes a

total blast. But most of the time, it's work—work to which writers are suited by their very natures. Now that's a generalization, but most of us don't mind spending the day alone holed up in an office—makeshift or otherwise—and that's the truth.


Using Vogler's archetypal analogies, each of us is the Hero of our story. What was my ordinary world like before I realized once and for all that I was a writer? I became a voracious reader from the time I read my first words, "Look. Look."

Of course, I made my living as a nurse, but I always had a great desire to create something …anything. It was crocheting and macramé in the Seventies, writing a historical romance in the late Seventies on an old Smith Corona, interior design school in the late Eighties and early Nineties, and writing La Femme Nikita fan fiction in the late Nineties. When I purchased a PC and discovered surfing the Internet, it opened up a world of new possibilities and friends.


That's the moment when someone says, "Why don't you write a book?" Or someone on a panel of fan fiction writers says, "No one on this panel ever expects to make a living writing." Well, I disagreed loudly on that panel of fan fiction writers, and while I have yet to make a living by writing alone, it's a big part of my life. And it’s still my challenge.


Okay, I was challenged and being the stubborn type, I responded, but the refusal comes every time I don't sit in front of the computer and work on the current book. It came when I didn't send in a requested partial or MS to an editor or gave up on trying to find an agent. Unfortunately it still comes when I tell myself that I'm not good enough and I won't ever be.


Hopefully along the way the writer finds a Mentor who guides her/him along the torturous journey or at least plants a boot in the writer's behind when needed. I found my mentor long before I entertained the idea of returning to writing. We met on the Internet and became friends before she revealed her dark secret, but I knew from her intelligent and astute comments on the message boards she knew a whole heck of a lot about writing.

And no wonder…she was a multi-published author who penned about thirty Silhouette Desires. She encouraged me with her comments on the story board—yes, I was writing fan fiction too. Her encouragement was exactly what I needed, and she gave me the most thorough critique I'd ever had. Her advice was the incentive to start the journey to perfect my craft. In other words, that red-lined partial manuscript propelled me on my way. Actually it was a sucker punch to the gut, but it was exactly what I needed.


To take Vogler's archetypal analogies to the next level would require the presence of a Threshold Guardian. Now who could keep me or any other writer from achieving our goals? Something far more subtle than lists of approved agents or recognized publishers stand in the writer's way—it's the writer's own insecurities, laziness, or lack of a proper adhesive to keep the butt firmly glued to the chair. Starting the first book and completing it was my threshold, and nothing would ever be the same.


When I had a good start on my first novel, I joined RWA. Once admitted to this special world, I experienced the overwhelming joy of being with people who spoke my language, who understood the voices in my head and shared the excitement of submissions along with the rigors of rejections. And therein lay the tests: Would I ever finish this book? Would I ever be published?

Would I give up too soon?

The sad fact is that your fellow writers can either be allies or enemies. I was fortunate in that

Music City Romance Writers is one of the most supportive groups I've ever known. Egos are left at the door. While some are farther along on their journey and some have started a little later in life, we're all writers. I maintain that the worst enemy a writer faces is her/himself.


The first book or at least the first draft is finished, and it's time to start submitting that puppy or pitching it to an editors at conferences. Ah, the sweet agony of preparing for that first pitch session. The clothes, the hair, the shoes—all have to be perfect, and oh, yes, the premise of the book memorized and condensed into twenty-five words. Not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. But absolutely necessary if I was to forge ahead in the career I'd chosen at the late age of fifty-two.

Actually I chose the career at the age of thirty, but allowed life to derail my dreams. As the hero/ writer approaches the inmost cave, there’s rejection. Our partial ms may be requested, but rejection after rejection finds its way into the file. Why keep trying? From the writings of a 14th Century Buddhist priest, Nichiren, in the “Letter to Niike” warns one of his followers of the need to persevere. "The journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you stop on the eleventh night, how can you ever admire the moon over the capital?"


It seems that when a writer is closest to achieving the goal of being published, the more her determination is tested. Just one more submission, one more query, and the right editor or agent at the right time picks up the right submission: Mine! Yes, she wants the full MS, and then there's more waiting. Then there's another rejection, but this one outlines what the project needs. Hope grows and explodes like a Fourth of July celebration over Washington, D.C. What if a writer goes through this same scenario time after time? Closer and closer, but not quite right. Only sheer determination and faith in oneself will keep a writer slogging away at the keyboard in the face of one rejection after another.


Better known in writer circles as THE CALL. Yes, someone loves your characters and your story. You have it made. You call all your friends. You reserve your and set up your web site if you haven't already. You are an author. You have it made.

Well, not quite. There's the ROAD BACK to consider…and the next book. What if no one wants it? Of course, the smart author will be working on it while she/he’s doing all that waiting. What if the one I just sold sucks? Don't worry. Someone will love your book, even if it's only your mother or your sister. And for sure, someone will also hate it, and that person will be a reviewer in the magazine of romance magazines, and that review will be on line for all eternity or until their server crashes.


The worst has happened. The reviewer at R.T. gave me two stars and said it was a "weak debut." I hung my head; I got mad as hell, and I told one person who was published and she reminded me that, "It's only one person's opinion." Eventually I got over it…but that damned review is still online for all the world to see.


Now I could say that the elixir is a big royalty check, but I haven't had many big ones. I continue to perfect my craft and voice, and the friends I've made are priceless. I've had e-mails from readers who love my books and characters…and no, they aren't relatives.

And in spite of evidence to the contrary, I still harbor a dream of hitting one of the big lists, and maybe if I live long enough, I will. It’s more likely I won't.


The journey is ongoing, and it’s one hell of a trip. As long as I can keep writing the stories I love, the journey is definitely worth it.


About Marie-Nicole Ryan


I'm an award winning romantic suspense author, and I've had a life-long love affair with books. I recently moved back to my old hometown in Western Kentucky. In addition to writing romantic suspense, I occasionally dabble in the erotic historical western genre.

I'm a member of ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA, MUSIC CITY ROMANCE WRITERS, and (PASIC) Published Authors Special Interest Chapter. When I served as the editor of MCRW's newsletter, Love Notes, we won the RWA small chapter newsletter contest for the year 2005.

Weaving in Historical Elements by Starla Kaye

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on July 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (3)

Today we are thrilled to have the very talented and super sweet Starla Kaye at ARW :)  Take it away Starla.


I love writing all kinds of genres and sub-genres of romance, including stories based in different time periods. Creating characters that feel “real” to a reader is an art. Establishing a believable setting for those characters, with conflicts also believable for the period, is a challenge. When a writer manages to pull it all together, the story can be a special gift to the readers. And when readers and reviewers appreciate the author’s hard work that is a gift to the author.


I really enjoyed writing my three medieval stories (Their Lady Gloriana, Maggie Mine, and its sequel The Great Scottish Devil) but they were a trial at times. The medieval period has always attracted me. I admit that the movies involving such a hard time and the romances that greatly soften the realities of living back then are what I enjoy. And I admit that I would never have wanted to live in those difficult days. But I write fiction and the worlds I create are acceptable to me and to my readers.

So what kind of historical elements are acceptable and make a story believable and enjoyable? A reader doesn’t want to read about some of the true hardships knights faced. She wants to read and visualize in her mind the powerful, handsome, buff knight riding proudly on his destrier and leading his men to battle or to whatever the story involves. She doesn’t want to know that many of the armored knights fell off their horses, couldn’t get up without assistance, and that a lot of them drowned in creeks and rivers because of the bulky armor. What readers want and rightly expect are simple details that give the sense of the setting and character particulars for the period.


The following are some setting examples from The Great Scottish Devil:


For a second he simply looked at her, struggling to draw in yet another breath. Slowly, he turned his head and she watched him raise his face to the skies laden with heavy gray clouds, appearing to study them. He shivered against the air chilled this mid-August morn. Then he looked around at their surroundings, at the grassy area on this northern slope of the Grampian Mountains, at the spattering of low shrubs, birches, and patches of purple heather. He’d been so determined to cross over these highest mountains in Scotland as quickly as possible. He’d seemed oddly anxious to head toward the villages in the Highlands they visited as tinkers this time of year. It should have taken them longer to ride. She’d wondered what had driven him so hard this trip.


As he rode with Sir Douglas at his side down the final slope of the Grampian Mountains, Brodie breathed a sigh of relief. The fifty men who traveled with them were a ways behind. Yet the sounds of so many hooves, so many heavily breathing horses carried to him even from this distance.


The following are some character details from The Great Scottish Devil:


He squinted at the sudden brightness as the sun rested high in the sky. The swirling gray clouds of the early morn had drifted away and now it was hotter. Sweat trickled down his back beneath his shirt. A warm breeze passed over him, fluttering the shoulder-length hair that he should have tied back.


His thoughts wandered to Urquhart and what awaited him there: many people who would be disappointed that he returned still without his memories. Still, they could not be any more disappointed than he. His head throbbed with the now familiar headache that plagued him whenever he tried to think about his past. He reached up to rub his forehead and caught sight of a tinker’s wagon at the foot of the hill they were going down.


The boy blinked and tears sparkled in his eyes. Slender shoulders shuddered beneath the dirt-dusted white shirt, and then straightened. A pouty lower lip trembled for but an instant. Then anger spread across a face that appeared too delicate for even a young boy.

“I’m not a thief!” the boy protested. He had the gall to glower at Brodie, to continue holding the ridiculously small weapon out in defense.

“’Tis a lass!” Douglas said in shock.

Brodie, too, had surmised that from the “boy’s” all-too-feminine voice, more so when the “boy’s” chest had thrust out in anger. There was no mistaking the swell of plump breasts shoving against the front of the shirt. It took him a second to come to terms with the surprising discover; it took another second to get beyond his surprise and back to his fury.


A good historical story will also include a limited amount of language used at the time. It is important to weave in certain terms that might have been used, a sense of the uniqueness of expressions common to the time period, and maybe a hint of an accent. But it is also important not to overdue all of this. Reading oddly spelled words or being constantly bombarded with unfamiliar language can frustrate a reader and pull them from a story. The key is to give only a flavor of the various elements of the historical period.


The following are some language details from The Great Scottish Devil:


To his annoyance, Douglas chuckled behind him. “I dinna think the lass has seen a mon in a kilt ‘ere. Or what a mon doesna wear under a kilt.” He chuckled again.


Disgusted, Brodie strode toward the lass, who was now scooting back toward the wagon, still brandishing the useless dirk. He pointed with his sword at the clearly dead man. “If ye killed him, ye will die here as well.”


The Great Scottish Devil

Book Title: The Great Scottish Devil

Author: Starla Kaye

Genre: Medieval Romance

Publisher: Blushing Books

Publication Date: June 1, 2012

Format: eBook, Kindle, Nook


Book Blurb:


Annabel Henderson’s life has fallen apart yet again, worse this time than before. She lost her beloved younger brother, then her mother a year ago, and now her father. His dying words talk of his regrets; warn her of someone or something that he was unable to fully explain. Confused, grieving, she is left alone in the Scottish Highlands to deal with her father’s body and wondering how she can continue on with her family’s tinker trade traveling from village to village. She must do it, for it is the only life she knows. In her heart, though, she yearns for a man to love her and to help her with the trade. Instead her first encounter is with the famed Great Scottish Devil returning to his home of Urquhart. The Devil is more annoying and demanding than he is handsome. How dare he think to take charge of her life!

Brodie Durward isn’t sure he can deal with another problem in his life. He’d barely survived being taken prisoner and seriously wounded in the final battle of the Crusades, left with the loss of his memories. Still struggling with that, he had to go to England and save his sister Maggie from being hung. All he wants now is to return to his family’s holding of the Castle Urquhart. He hopes the once familiar surroundings and being around his clan will help him completely heal and regain his memories. Then he and his men run across a young lad apparently trying to steal the valuables off a dead man. Such a travesty can’t be tolerated! But the “lad” isn’t a boy at all. The supposed bandit is a tiny sprite of a woman, far too pleasing to the eye for his comfort, and furious at having been called a thief. And then she tries to refuse to travel with him under his protection, claiming she doesn’t need it, doesn’t wish to go in that direction. He has no patience for her foolishness. She will go with him!

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Creating Characters by Cecilia Robert

Posted by Dominique Eastwick on April 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (7)

Thank you, Aspiring Romance Writers, for allowing me to share my passion for writing here with you. Today I am going to talk about Character, Character.


Creating Characters


In order to have a wonderful cast of characters, it is good to consider giving them a splash of colour. I love this part. It’s like having a clean sheet of paper with different water colors. I can splash it with as much colour as I want, mix and match.


I give them a weakness or two. Makes them more human and easy to empathize with. There is nothing as boring as creating characters who are similar. There wouldn’t be much of a conflict during their interaction. So I give them a personality. Is the hero bossy, adventurous, bad boy, tormented. Is the heroine shy, frail-looking that every man wants to leap and help her, does she seduce every person she meets in order to get her way?


Give the characters a quirk: does she pick on onions on her pizza, (I do that) does she bite her nails when nervous, jiggle her foot (guilty again), superstitious? Maybe she or he has a word she loves using a lot, (or curses a lot) or has a particular clothing preference, like putting on tweed jackets, or wears only clothing 100% cotton. Imagine a character who believes in superstitions about mirrors, ends up trapped in a house full of them? And no way to cover or hide from them? It would take a huge amount of effort to overcome her /his fear. This quirk creates conflict in this situation.


Writing character history. Everyone has a story. History. What happened to a person to shape them, for them to be the they are. Was she pampered as a child, therefore expects to get anything she desires whenever she wants? Did her/his parents divorce when she/he was a child? Did she grow up in a family where the parents displayed their affection in front of the kids? What kind of house did they live in? Did they have money growing up? Food? Anything. All these contribute to the characters history. Write their story on a different page. This way I know my characters, what drives them and that acts as a reference. Oh yes, and what buttons to push to make them all angry, snarly, indecisive or bare their hearts or lay their hearts at whose feet. And after my characters have walked the distance, full of thorns and stones, I reward them. Give them a happy ever after. After all, they’ve earned it. 



Truly. Madly. Deeply. You.

Book Title: Truly, Madly, Deeply, You

Author: Cecilia Robert

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: InkSpell Publishing

Publication Date: March 21st 2012

Format: eBook, Kindle

Book Synopsis:


Four days before Valentine’s Day, Liese Hansfeld is determined to shut the door to her house, as well as her heart, for her annual four days of mourning her one true love. Little does she know her best friend Freytag Meier is just as determined to keep her from her ritual. He’s ready to pick the lock to her apartment door and camp in her living room if that’s what it takes.


What Freytag isn’t prepared for is the surge of deep-rooted emotions he feels for Liese, but two things stand in his way: the grief and guilt she still clutches close to her heart, and a man who threatens to snatch Liese from under Frey’s watchful eye. Frey is determined to distract her into forgetting her pain. But is that enough to ease her grief, or help her see he can be more than her best friend?


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