Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Logline: Who Needs It? How Can I Write One?

This post is syndicated from Whitley Gray: The Logline--Who Needs It? How Can I Write One?

This is right up there with synopsis and query and cover letter. It’s the secret weapon that says you know what your story is about and can sum it up in one sentence. It’s the jewel you can memorize and blurt out at any time.

Otherwise known as the “elevator pitch,”—something you might pull out when you have a captive audience, such as an editor while attending a conference—the logline is a twenty-five to thirty word summary of your story. It needs to indicate the main characters, the conflict, and the story question. Whole workshops are given on the topic, and I strongly recommend you sign up for one before you start to pitch your logline to anyone, especially to a captive audience. Elevators work, but so does an impromptu pitch session over dinner, waiting for a bus, etc.

Okay. Let’s take a formulaic approach:
(heroine) must (action) with (hero) to (conflict) or (consequence).

A witch on the outs with her coven must work with the demon she put in jail twenty years ago to extinguish a virus before it annihilates all paranormal creatures. (thirty words).

This logline tells us the heroine is a witch, and she’s done something to alienate her own kind.

The hero is a demon, who likely hates the witch for what she did to him in the past. He also has done something that landed him in jail back then.

These two have to work together, which is going to set up all sorts of conflict.

Their mission is to wipe out a virus. Failing has huge consequences for both of them. As they’re both paranormal creatures, they’ll be susceptible to the virus (danger) and their own kind (both witches and demons) will be wiped out. There’s time pressure in there too. If they don’t succeed in time, the virus will have taken its course.

See how that works?

So our editor in the stalled elevator now knows what your book is about—it’s a paranormal romance with elements of suspense. Two different kinds of paranormal creatures are involved. The premise lends itself to conflict, with a lot of potential for escalation—it’s there from the get-go. They have a larger-than-life mission involving a communicable disease, which is a fresh idea (we hope it’s fresh to her). The consequences are huge, and mean all sorts of friends and family will be at risk and could die—always a crowd pleaser.

Now let’s look at the wording.

A witch on the outs with her coven must work with the demon she put in jail twenty years ago to extinguish a virus before it annihilates all paranormal creatures. (thirty words).

On the outs with” This could be worded as “alienated by her coven.” Why not word it that way?

“Okay…” you say. “What’s wrong with that? We’re saving words, and we don’t get many to start with.” Because now the coven is doing something to the witch. “Coven alienates witch” is the active construction. But we don’t care about the coven in the logline—they’re not the heroine.

“Witch alienated by her coven.” This is a passive construction. Do we want passive construction? No! We want nice active construction. Both ways mean the same thing, but “on the outs with” is active.

Must work with” It’s not optional. She has to work with him. Not a friend, not a colleague. A specific guy, and from the sound of it, they don’t like each other. It could be “work with,” and that would save us a word. But it also suggests that the situation may be optional—like they’re choosing to work together. And what’s the fun in that? “Must” is the stuff conflicts are made of.

Put in jail” This goes to plot. When you’re thinking about plot, think about what generates strong conflict. Minor infractions seldom lead to the type of situation strong enough to carry a book. If we said “the demon she turned into a toad for a day” sounds like he could be irritated, but probably not enough to strongly dislike her. Plus it eats up our word count. It could be “the demon who jilted her five years ago.” That would still be conflict—just not as strong, not as much.

So, a criminal act of some kind. It has to be something egregious enough to warrant a jail sentence. It has to be something she did that’s bad enough to make him angry. The fun is you get to decide what that was, and how to weave it into the fabric of your story.

Okay, let’s examine the mission. “Extinguish a virus.” Not “kill,” not “eliminate,” not “cure.” Not “give a ten day course of antiviral medication.” Extinguish is a strong verb. Strong words are your friends. Strong verbs do the heavy lifting in writing. Adverbs—words that modify verbs—weaken construction. Stephen King said “The way to hell is paved with adverbs.”

“Why would Mr. King say that?” you ask. “My eighth grade English teacher Miss Fluffermuffin didn’t say that. She liked adverbs.”

Okay. We could say “Totally wipe out” or “completely eliminate” or “cure in a timely fashion.” Note the –ly, the calling card of the adverb. Editors have strong feelings about adverbs, mostly of the negative kind. If you’re tempted to use one, look at your verb.

Example: How about “ran?” It’s a nice verb, gets us from point “A” to point “B” faster than walking. Maybe “ran quickly.” That makes it more exciting. But look what happens…

The editor is frowning, has out her computer-generated red pencil. “I hate adverbs. Stephen King was right!”

How about “bolted?” or “charged?” “Raced?” The difference is real, and it grabs attention. “Bolted” grabs your attention. “Bolted?” you say. “My, that’s fast. That’s quick. That’s…getting my attention.”

Now we’re getting to the end of our logline. The consequences.“Annihilates all paranormal creatures.” As you’ve no doubt discerned by now, “annihilates” is stronger than “kills.” It’s stronger than “destroys.” The word “annihilates” brings up images of atomic-level destruction, of utter disaster, of cataclysmic consequences. If they fail, it doesn’t mean creatures from werewolves to vampires will break out in an unsightly purple-spotted pox. Nope, they’ll be gone. Finito. Never to be seen again. It’s a big deal if you’re a paranormal citizen.

“It could be ‘annihilates the world,’” you say. Okay, I’ll agree with that. But then why did it require a witch and a demon? How about an accountant and the waitress at that dinner where he goes for lunch every day? It could, but then something has to motivate them to save paranormal creatures. Why would these two humans care about the paranormal inhabitants?

Okay. This is the end of my dissection. Now you try it.

(heroine) must (action) with (hero) to (conflict) or (consequence).

Sit down with your story.

Write down the heroine, and one thing about her. A big thing, not her flaming red hair or startling fashion sense—not unless they impact the plot.

Write down your hero, and a defining characteristic. Keep it tied to the plot.

Why might these two not get along? (Conflict) Write it down.

What is the big thing they need to do? (Action) Write it down.

What happens if they can’t accomplish their goal? (Consequence) Write it down.

Likely you have more than thirty words at this point, but that doesn’t matter. Put these parts together in a sentence that explains your plot. Count the number of words. Don’t despair, we’ll pare it down until it’s svelte.

Look at every word, starting with the nouns. People places and things. Look at your verbs. Look at them again. Are adverbs tagging along? Get out your thesaurus and find a strong verb. Annihilate the adverbs. Make the verbs able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Look at your clauses. Now this isn’t grammar, and I’m not getting into that. I’ve put the descriptive phrases into brackets here:

A witch [on the outs with her coven] must work with the demon [she put in jail twenty years ago] to extinguish a virus [before it annihilates all paranormal creatures.] (thirty words).

Without the clauses, the logline still reads as a coherent sentence. Not a very exciting one, but still a sentence. Use your words wisely in these clauses. The clauses tell about your characters and your consequences.

I’m not a big fan of names in loglines. Some people are. Names tend to use up words, as you still need the descriptions in there. Unless the name has to do with the title or the plot, I leave it out.

Keep chugging away on that logline. Tweak it until it shines, tape it above your computer. Memorize it—you never know when you’ll have to pull it out.

Once upon a misspent youth, Whitley read and wrote stories under the covers at night. At some point, real life intervened, bringing with it responsibilities and a career in the medical field. After years of technical writing, Whitley became enamored of romance and took on the challenge of giving it a try. Inventing characters and putting them through paces in interesting ways turned out to be addictive, and along the way, Whitley discovered that two heroes is twice as nice. A pot of coffee, quiet, and a storyline featuring a couple of guys makes for a perfect day. Stop by and feed your fix for heat between the sheets with erotica and M/M romance.

*Photo courtesy of Squidoo.

Friday, April 18, 2014

#MFRWorg Monthly Quote - April 2014

“It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful, but it is more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. We are tasked to make our lives, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of our most elevated and critical hour.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Emerald is an erotic fiction author whose short stories have been featured in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, and Logical-Lust. She serves as an assistant newsletter editor and Facebook group moderator for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW), and she selects and posts the monthly inspirational quote on the MFRW Marketing Blog. Find out more about her at her website, The Green Light District.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Party on Facebook with @MFRW_ORG... Here's How!

Participate in MFRW's First Facebook Party!
A facebook party is an event hosted through a facebook page. It has a determined amount of time, a theme and involves multiple posts by the participating authors. Many times, a facebook party is used by authors to celebrate a new book's release.

MFRW is now using facebook parties as a fun new marketing tool for our members. We hope you'll join us!

The major benefits of using group facebook parties as part of your book's marketing strategy are (1) sharing readers with other participating authors and (2) utilizing a social media forum preferred by the majority of today's romance readers. Your reach will be larger than going it alone when you participate in an event that involves other authors.

This first MFRW facebook party is scheduled for May 1st and is specifically for our contemporary romance authors, all heat levels welcome including GLBT. Throughout the year, each genre will be featured to be sure every MFRW author gets the opportunity to participate.

Upcoming MFRW facebook EVENTS (coming in future months): Historical Romance | Romantic Suspense | Science Fiction | Paranormal Romance

MFRW facebook parties will be hosted as events on the MFRW facebook page. Authors: Join the MFRW facebook page NOW if you aren't already a member. It's best for authors to be a member of the page to participate but it won't be necessary for the readers you invite. You will be able to invite readers/ fans/ reviewers/ followers to this event soon and we'll provide the tools and instruction for doing this.

Are You Ready To Party?
As a participating author in a facebook party, you'll be expected to advertise on your blog/ website using the party badge, invite your facebook friends and share in as many other social outlets as possible. Our twitter hashtags are #MFRWorg and #MFRWauthor. Include these for bonus re-tweets! *When sharing the badge, include party link:*

Participating authors will sign up to host for one or two hours. During that time, you'll be expected to post up to two excerpts, PG-13 or below, share cover art, give away at least one free book using a contest format and otherwise interact with attendees through the posts.

More Details will be provided to those who sign up as it gets closer to the event. For now, click on both links below to become a participating author.

Just Ask Paloma. Leave A Comment.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Newbie's World #MFRWorg @AuthorErinMoore What is my brand?

Branding. It’s a question that new authors have a lot. And it should be one that we can define
easily for others. But how do we know what it is? And what do we do about it once we know?

credit to Miguel Anxo at
First, a definition, for which I give heartfelt thanks to Theresa Myer’s amazing white paper: Today when we talk about an author brand we are talking about building an image, perception or identity that is used to create "emotional Velcro" first, a perception of higher quality second and that little "something special" that no one else can offer third.

If you happened to read my article on a similar topic on Savvy Authors (of course you did!), we discussed getting readers to 1. Know us, then 2. Like us, and 3. Love us. This is the same concept. The example Theresa gives is a reader walking into a bookstore and asking for the latest Nora Roberts book. They are not asking for the title – they are asking for the brand, Nora Roberts.

So how do we get the Nora Roberts brand?

1. Define your own brand.
Writing Exercise: (some my own, some stolen from Ali Cross’ amazing post). Answer any or all.
  • Look up your favorite authors, musicians, artists and see what resonates. What emotions are they evoking, and is it something that grabs you, or turns you off?
  • List out seven adjectives for your books.
  • List out seven adjectives for your ideal reader. 
  • Determine what makes you unique – everyone can be hot, smexy, playful – let’s dig a little deeper. 
  • What message do you hope that your readers will walk away from their interactions with you and/or your books? 
  • What do you bring to the world – not just to writing, but to the world? 
  • Do you need one brand, or multiple? Perhaps an umbrella brand could work, keeping in mind keeping up with various brands. (Though, if you write in many different and distinct genres, trying to keep it all together may be even harder…)
2. Refine your brand.
a. Tagline – this should be the synthesis of everything you went through in the exercises. Short, different, and easy to remember.

b. Website/blog—blogging on your topic, at least 25% of the time, will help readers come to trust you on your expert subject.

c. Logo—what images define you/your brand? This may be something you need some help with, in which case, experiment by yourself first so that you have an idea of what you do and don’t want before paying someone else.

d. Twitter/Facebook—Again, talking about your expert knowledge at least 25% of the time will bring readers back to you. They will come to know and expect your advice/insight/humorous take on whatever subject(s) you have chosen.

This will be a continually evolving process, one that will always need refinement. But the core of your brand should not change drastically. And if you find that it needs to, then it’s possible that you will need to create a different brand entirely (with all of the same work involved) for that new brand.

In closing, I would like to say “please do as I say, not as I do” on this topic. I’m a WIP. Now, talk to me... let me know about your brand! What has worked for you?

Erin writes paranormal romances as Erin Moore and has only just begun to learn all about marketing them! She contributes to the MFRW Marketing Blog with her monthly column, A Newbie's World.

She is usually found on Twitter, but may soon be on an Amazon binge, so look out! She manages two monsters and one unruly husband in Atlanta, main-lining chocolate and tea. Look her up on or, of course, on Twitter: @AuthorErinMoore.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Group E-Mail Etiquette: How to win friends and avoid scolding while staying in touch with your group #MFRWOrg

E-mail is a great method of communicating, giving us instant communication with minimal expense. In a group setting, e-mail helps you get in touch with a large audience with no more effort than you would expend contacting a single recipient.
This wonderful opportunity to communicate can also be a wonderful opportunity to irritate. Following a few guidelines can avoid irritation from your fellow posters and list moderators. You see the requests to please trim, please change the subject line, please please please... Sometimes the impression is one of nannies fussing about table manners, and you might wonder what difference does it make if you don’t trim your post. Having the whole conversation in one place just makes it easier for someone to follow.
    Doesn’t it?
    It certainly seems like it would be easier, and it’s absolutely faster to dash off a reply and hit send.
    Except: not everyone in a discussion group receives messages as individual e-mails. So when you write: “Does anyone know where the pearl is?” And someone answers “The pearl is in the river” it comes out on e-mail:

The pearl is in the river
Cindy Lou Who Whoville Seussland

Does anyone know where the pearl is?
Sandy Paws, Beach City Ozland

Then another writer joins the conversation with :

What kind of pearls are you finding in the river?
Furry Fawcet, Happyland South Branch

The pearl is in the river
Cindy Lou Who Whoville Seussland

Does anyone know where the pearl is?
Sandy Paws, Beach City Ozland

And so on. Each successive message includes the entire train of preceding messages. For someone on digest, this becomes a never ending mass of missives. This example includes one line messages. Imagine how this would read with longer messages and complex signature lines. Yeah, it can get really messy.
Trimming messages depends on your mail program, but you can generally block out the extra verbiage and then click control and X (cntrl+X) If necessary you can leave in one or two lines from the original post. Your loop companions will thank you fervently.

Often a group discussion segues into multiple other topics. The initial discussion might concern formatting e-books and by the time the posters finish every facet of contracts and agents and rights might have been covered. If the subject line is still “E-book Formatting in Traditional Romance” then some valuable information might be missed by readers who are not interested in formatting their e-books. It helps to add a word or two relating to the added information. “E-book Formatting in Traditional Romance/agent contracts” will let readers know additional information is available.
However if there is a radical change in subjects it might be a good idea to start an entirely new subject, which will establish a new message trail and make it easier to follow the new subject. This also makes it easier to find and follow subjects of interest in the Yahoo group.

How, you might wonder, do we get to the Yahoo group? Glad you asked.. If you scroll down to the bottom of your loop message, you’ll see:


Visit Your Group

By clicking on the Group link, or on Visit Your Group, you’ll go directly to the Yahoo group home page, where you can search messages and follow the message trails. Kind of nifty, isn’t it?

Following these few simple suggestions will ensure good communication and uncomplicated messages. Even better, you won’t receive moderator messages imploring you to PLEASE trim. This might not be all sunshine and roses but it will make everyone involved much happier!
Posted by Mona Karel, Bloghop Coordinator and Moderator for Marketing for Romance Writers

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Moderating the MFRW Facebook Group—Pinning Posts (and a Membership Landmark!) #MFRWorg

First, a short announcement: since my last post here about moderating the MFRW Facebook group, the group reached (and passed) 3,000 members! The Facebook group has seen considerable growth since I started moderating it not quite a year ago. At that time, there were several hundred members. We reached 1,000 last June, if I remember correctly, 2,000 sometime late last fall, and now here we are at (as of this writing) 3,147 members!

In messaging with potential members during the request moderation process, I’ve often found myself suggesting that they consider joining the Yahoo Group as well. Since many potential members have mentioned where they are in their careers and what kind of marketing help they’re seeking or why, the conversation has often segued naturally into this invitation. MFRW’s Yahoo and Facebook groups serve notably different purposes at this point—since promotion is allowed on the Facebook group, it is used mostly for that right now, whereas the Yahoo Group (where no promotion is allowed) is where most of the group’s discussions about promotion, marketing, resources, etc., take place. So I personally see it as well worthwhile to be a part of both.

Which brings me (slightly indirectly) to the main topic of this post: pinning posts. A pinned post is a post on a group page that remains anchored to the top of the page irrespective of other posts. It is thus very useful as a reference point or to impart evergreen information that you’d like everyone who visits the group page to see, since it always appears as the first post on the group page.

In this case, since I found myself writing similar things over and over in private messages about the Yahoo Group and including the link to join, it eventually occurred to me that it would be much easier if I could just put this announcement somewhere and send people to it. Even better if it were somewhere group members and the public could see it.

Enter the pinned post. I wrote a short summary of MFRW’s Yahoo Group and other resources (such as its website), included links to all of them, added a note summarizing the process I use to moderate join requests, and pinned the post to the top of the group page. Now when I am in touch with potential members, I simply say something like, "Please see my pinned post at the top of the group page for information about MFRW’s Yahoo Group.” I have found this much more efficient. ;)

Only the moderator(s) of a group can pin a post, though any post on a group page may be pinned (i.e., the moderator doesn’t have to be the author of it). To pin a post, locate the post in question, hover over the upper-right corner of it until the little drop-down arrow appears, click on the arrow, and choose “Pin Post.” If at any point you want to unpin the post, follow the same directions and click “Unpin Post.”

Facebook currently only allows one pinned post at a time on group pages. Sometimes my post has been unpinned on the MFRW group in favor of special-event pins, such as when Summer Camp took place last year or when MFRW was up for several awards in the 2013 Preditors & Editors poll (the MFRW newsletter won for “Best Writers’ Resource”!). In these cases, Kayelle composed alternate posts that she pinned with these announcements, and the introductory post was unpinned and thus automatically returned to its original place in the group’s timeline. When it was time to put it back, I simply located it again and repinned it. Pinning and repinning may be done to any post that exists anywhere on a group's timeline. The “Likes” and comments remain intact, as pinning and unpinning don't actually alter a post in any way but rather just move it to a different place on the page.

Please note that the pinned post functionality is also available on “Pages,” so in the same way I described above to pin a post on the group page, you may pin a given post on your author page. This post will remain the first post listed on your page until you unpin it or replace it with another pinned post (the “one pin at a time” rule also applies to pages). To see an example of a pinned post and how it appears on the page, just visit the MFRW Facebook group and see mine (under my legal name, Emily McCay) at the top of the group page. :)

Thanks for reading, and see you next month!

Emerald is an erotic fiction author whose short stories have been featured in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, and Logical-Lust. She serves as an assistant newsletter editor and Facebook group moderator for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW), and she selects and posts the monthly inspirational quote on the MFRW Marketing Blog. Find out more about her at her website, The Green Light District.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

#AuthorTips: What to Keep on Your Calendar by Kayelle Allen #MFRWorg #author

What kinds of things do authors need to keep on their calendars? How can they stay organized and on top of things? There are two basic types of info to track on a calendar -- personal and professional. To be sure they're included and planned for, list personal and family items first. They are your priority, aren't they?


  • Personal items such as family events, like picking up the kids from practice
  • Date night with that special person in your life
  • Birthdays of friends and family
  • Personal time off - TV shows that you don't want to miss; a movie you want to see. For eight years, I had the TV show 24 on my regular schedule and never missed an episode. It was a big event in my household and we all gathered to watch it.
  • Vacation. If you don't rest, your mind won't be clear. Carpal tunnel syndrome is real -- overwork can injure your hands. You'll end up needing more time off than you would have than if you'd simply allowed your body to rest properly. Your body will thank you.


  • Clearly indicate deadlines for long term projects (books, articles, drafts, edits)
  • The release dates of your next books, if you know them.
  • Contests for which you are either entering material or are serving as a judge
  • Conventions
  • Book signings or other appearances
  • Workshops and training
  • Birthdays of fellow authors, friends, and fans
  • Work backwards from book release dates to plan pre-publicity, advertising, guest spots, interviews, blog tours, and submissions to review sites
  • Plan as many events in the three months following your book's release as possible.
  • Assuming you'll have at least one book release per year, request guest blog spots throughout the year. Try to be a guest on other authors' sites every month. It will keep your name in front of readers. If you release books more often, this is doubly important.
  • Release day events
  • Follow up events for a new book
  • Chat dates
  • Guests on your blog - other authors will bring fresh readers to your site. Take advantage of that by inviting others to share material you think your readers will enjoy.

The Last Vhalgenn 
Set up your calendar with a routine reminder period for scheduled items. For example, being reminded four days prior to a chat or blog so you have time to do last minute work and promo. Be flexible in your planning. The only thing in life that's permanent is change. Accept life as it comes along. Some things can't be avoided. Deal with them and move on.

The Last Vhalgenn

By Kayelle Allen
Duty to king and country has shaped Raik's life since birth, but to protect them, she must perform a ritual that betrays all she holds sacred.

About the Author

Kayelle Allen is a multi-published, award-winning author, and the founder of Marketing for
Romance Writers. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary characters, futuristic immortals, covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#WWoW Use Tweepi with Twitter.

Post reblogged from Writer's WoW Blog with permission.

Tweepi is my favorite tool to use with Twitter.

Tweepi helps you make sense of your Twitter social graph with stats. You will be able to learn about the number of people you haven't followed back, the number of people who aren't following you, search people who your friends follow and much more. It makes it simple to manage your account by doing the following things much easier than manually through twitter...

This tool allows you to unfollow users who aren't following you back. Sometimes there are people we've followed that are no longer relevant and if they aren't following you, you may choose not to follow them.

This tool helps you find all the users that follow you, but you don't follow back. Then you can follow them back with a click of a button.

This feature allows you to unfollow users who no longer keep active twitter accounts. It's likely that you're following more than a few hundred people on Twitter. You must've noticed that many of these users either don't engage in conversations, never retweet anybody, or simply just ramble about nonsense stuff all day long (no links to useful content whatsoever!). You can use Tweepi cleanup tool to filter these people out and unfollow them. The Clean-up tool enables you to filter out those inactive and unwanted tweeps by letting you check out their details and decide for yourself!

This feature gives you a resource for finding users with similar interests. The most common way to find and add people with the same interests as you, is to find a popular user within your area of interest and add people who follow these known users.

Tweepi helps you analyze and filter tweeps out -the geeky way,
with numbers in a table- based on their activity and sociability. 

How do you start using Tweepi?
It's only 5 simple steps.

  1. Go to
  2. Choose "login" (to start using Tweepi for free which is all you need)
  3. Enter your username/email with your password and click "Authorize app"
  4. Create a Tweepi account with your first and last name and your e-mail
  5. Start using Tweepi!
The first time you go through your account, it may take awhile but as you then update it every few weeks, it
becomes less of a chore. You'll find it worthwhile to create a SAFE LIST so you never accidentally unfollow someone you want to follow regardless of any stats. For example, you might be following a celebrity who doesn't follow people but you won't want to unfollow them. You might be surprised though at how many people you follow that aren't  following you and vice versa. Tweepi gives you the tools to make your Twitter account be exactly what you want. Make it work for you using Tweepi.