Tag Archives: writer

This Romantic Cowboy Is The Real Deal

What kind of example would Romantic Shorts set if we didn’t do something special for Valentine’s Day?

Let me introduce you to Reid Lance Rosenthal, a rancher from Wyoming who also happens to write romance. And quite well, in fact, if the first book of his Threads West: An American Saga is any indication.

I met Reid on my Twitter travels a while back and was instantly taken by his warmth and generosity. He offered to write a guest post for Romantic Shorts’ authors, and in our emails back and forth, I came to learn that he is an accomplished writer with a genuine heart. I did, however, get to thinking that I should probably read one of his books before actually posting his words. One never knows…

I ordered a copy of Threads West, the first of Reid’s eight-novel saga. It arrived sooner than I’d expected, and, as any other eager reader, the packaging never made it past the front door. I didn’t really have any expectations, good or bad, I just like starting a new book.

One glance at the cover took me to the America of the mid 1800’s. A quick read through a heartfelt dedication and intro – I get back to those later – and I jumped right in. For the better part of the rest of that day and the next – I think I heard one of my kids mutter something about throwing a pizza in the oven “…’cause Mom’s reading again…” – I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Reid’s people, getting to know them, and travelling with them through the beginning of what promises to be one hell of a journey. I recommend the read highly – reluctant to give away any details (book reviews have never been one of my strong suits). The only fallback is the ending because it is not an ending, but a beginning. And you have to wait for Reid’s pen to work its magic again.

On the plus side, as of today, there’s only another month or so to wait. The second book in the series, Maps of Fate is due out in April 17, 2012.

That should be enough time to squeeze in a second read of the first…

And in the meantime, I’ve decided to publish his guest post as a Romantic Short for our readers instead of just keeping it to ourselves. Reid sent me a post about writing romance from the male perspective. It talks more about romance than writing, but, after all, that’s the point.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Reid’s words go a long way towards reminding us about what it is we’re actually celebrating on Tuesday.

I invite you to stop by our Reading Room and read Reid Lance Rosenthal’s This Cowboy Knows Romance. You’ll be glad you did…

Alex.

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The Importance Of A Synopsis

Oh, you’ve worked so hard at finishing your manuscript and it’s truly a masterpiece. Congratulations!

Now it’s time to pitch it to a publisher, most of whom simply want an idea of what your story is about so that he or she can decide whether or not it’s worth the time.

Think carefully about this. You do the same thing. When was the last time you opened a book without reading the back cover first. Do you ever watch a television show without reading the description? Ever seen a movie trailer?

We like to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

But never does an intro weigh as heavily as it does for your manuscript. It is estimated that you have between 2 and 30 seconds to win over an editor. Two seconds can cover as little as a single sentence!

But no pressure. Enter the synopsis.

Keep your goal in mind. Your synopsis, first and foremost, should adhere to the publisher’s guidelines. Many are very specific as to  length and format. Know your audience.

If, on the other hand, you’re left to your own creativity, here are some tips.

Length Can Matter – A Lot

Try to make the length of your synopsis suit the length of your story. While it can be quite difficult to sum up a 100,000 word novel into two paragraphs, resist the temptation to give two full pages of details for your 10,000 word novella.

A good guide is approximately 2-5% of your word count. 2000-5000 words for the novel. 200-500 for the novella. Depending on the topic, anecdotes and short stories should fall into the 100-250 word range.

Don’t overdo it. But give yourself some space to sell your work. You’re writing a synopsis. Not a novel…

What To Include

In a nutshell, you’re telling your story. You’re outlining your setting, introducing your characters, and summarizing your plot. You’ll want to include all of your key components, plot twists, and, yes, the ending. And don’t use the words ‘spoiler alert.’ You’re talking to an editor, not a reader.

Don’t explain why you named your characters what you did. Don’t get into how you know about a certain topic. Don’t give background information that isn’t included in the story. Don’t ask questions. Just summarize the story.

You can discuss your inner most inspirations and ideas at your book signings. The editor just wants the goods.

Is There Room For Style?

Don’t include anything in your synopsis that the reader won’t find in the story. And that includes style. If the story is humourous, write the synopsis with the same sense of humour. Casual dialogue and dialect? Match it in the synopsis. You are telling the story in a shortened, accurate, and effective fashion. You are not describing your story as if it were written by someone else.

Remain true to your point of view as well. First person story? First person synopsis.

The only thing that changes for the synopsis is the tense. Regardless of the timing of your story, the synopsis is typically told in the present tense.

Keep in mind, you have the chance to exhibit your skill when an editor reads a witty – even snarky – summary of a black comedy, immediately after the professional demeanor of your polished cover letter.

Be True To Your Story

Probably the most difficult point to relay, and the reason for this post, is the failure of the synopsis to adequately reveal the genius in the story. I received a fairly uninteresting query from an author who submitted what amounted to a television preview report of the story – a scant and boring paragraph – within the query letter. In fact, if not for a spectacular pen name that caught my eye, I would not have continued beyond the cover letter itself – a rejection letter forming in my mind as I turned the page over.

But because I glimpsed a little imagination in that name, I decided to give the manuscript a go.

This story had me from the first line! Some of the best writing I’ve received: witty, sharp, excellent dialogue, and some intriguing details throughout. The point of view alone left me eager to read.

Lucky day for that writer.

Do not count on that kind of luck. Sell your story. It was worth writing – make sure the editor sees that.

Polish Polish Polish

Finally, your synopsis is your calling card. It’s the tool that will either sell an editor on giving you a chance or land you in the trash. The most common reason for the latter is lack of polish. Give as much care and effort to the editing of your synopsis as you did to your manuscript. Grammar, sentence structure, spelling are all critical to the impression you’ll make. No editor will ask for more crap. Show off your editing skills and land that sale.

Don’t think for a minute that your manuscript will be requested if your synopsis doesn’t turn some heads. Lead with your best foot forward. Overlooking the quality of your synopsis – whether one paragraph or a small book – will ruin your chances with your manuscript. Guaranteed.

Writers, editors, what are your thoughts?
How important is it to ace the synopsis?

 

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When – Exactly – Does a Writer Become a ‘Published’ Writer?

Here’s an interesting question I’d love to hear some thoughts on:

When exactly does a writer become a published writer?

These days, in the world of traditional publishing, e-publishing, self-publishing, making money, paying money, losing money, blogging, copywriting, freelancing, and a hundred other factors I could probably list, at what point is a writer considered published?

It seems a given that, were I to ask a traditionally published author and their traditional publisher, that the answer would be, of course, the writer who has successfully passed through the extensive review and judgment process typically enforced by the traditional publishing world. And while I agree with including such authors, I would argue that there are many others who should be included within this elite group of people.

I commented on a blog today as to what I believe constitutes a ‘writer’ in the first place. Allow me to indulge:

When we’re talking about anything creative – writing, painting, music, design, etc. – the concept of ‘real’ does not apply. Anybody can (attempt to) do any of these things. I would think, then, that the more important clarification is, “Yeah, but are they any good at it?”

And because ‘quality’ of creation is purely subjective, the whole idea of qualifying one’s talent becomes moot. It is experience – and the knowledge and wisdom that come with it – above all that defines us.

I went to L’Universite du Quebec and learned to speak French. I was 18, away from home for the first time, in a province where I was suddenly legally able to drink. After all was said and done, it turned out that I didn’t need the actual ‘Certificat’ to prove I could speak French. (Thankfully!)

If I create and print a document that looks exactly like a law degree and hang it on my wall, I am no closer to being a lawyer than I was yesterday. There’s a process.

The greatest creation is that of life. Anyone can become a mother/father. But the true test of ability comes when mother/father become mom/dad. It’s the process that matters.

To my adopted children, I am legally mother. It is the process – the time, the effort, the pain, the passion – that makes me their mom.

Having written two novels – neither of which I ever intended to publish – I now call myself a writer. I lived those stories, created those characters, loved them, and missed them terribly in the end. I experienced the process that saw me sitting at my keyboard prepared to write my hero and heroine into their first kiss. I can’t explain my fascination as I watched them start to bicker, get angry at each other, and stomp off in different directions. I can’t explain how it felt to watch my words take on a life beyond my own imagination. But every writer out there knows exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s the process that makes one a writer – of any style, genre, and form. In whatever fashion one chooses to express him or herself through the written word, no matter how often, how much, how good, or how bad, one becomes a writer by writing.

Publishing, in any form, is irrelevant.

It’s just a convenient way for us to try to measure what kind of writer you are.

And so, with that said, how then do we measure the talent of a writer? What are the criteria? Does it matter any more?


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