Thursday, January 8, 2015

Creating a Newsletter—The First Page by Rochelle Weber, Newsletter Editor #MFRWorg

In November, we covered creating a header for the first page of a newsletter. Since the MFRW Newsletter broke ninety pages, we’ve discussed the difference between a newsletter and a magazine.  One of our members posted an article that discussed the differences.  Length was one.  Most newsletters run between one and twenty-four pages.  I guess we passed that a few years ago.  Another major difference was the cover.  Most magazines have a photo on the cover with a headline and teasers about the content inside, which usually consists of articles and advertising in non-industry-specific language.  Newsletters tend to have articles on the front.  Of course, I like to add some sort of artwork to the front of my newsletters as well.  It would be a pretty dull publication without some sort of illustration.

So, how do I lay it out?  I add text boxes for the articles I put on the front page.  In the case of the MFRW Newsletter, we put our Featured Author on the front page.    We start with the person’s biography one the left and an interview on the right.  We put the author’s photo in the top right-hand corner, and if there’s room we put his/her contact info in a box at the bottom left.  Again, I use IrfanView to size it.  I like 1.5 inches wide, and I keep the aspect even and let IrfanView decide the length.  We outline the Contacts box in pink.  Our headings are in brown and the links are in hot pink.  The text box for the biography takes up about one-third (1/3) of the width of the page.

As for the interview, the submission form contains several questions for each author to choose from—some serious ones about the craft of writing, some funny ones that may give us an insight into the author him/herself.  And it just occurred to me that since we’re a marketing group, I should probably ask about their favorite marketing technique. I’d better add that to the form as soon as I finish this so I don’t forget!

Depending on how well that fits in the remaining two-thirds (2/3) of the page, it can be one wide column or two narrow ones.  I’ve found that when info doesn’t fit in one column, it sometimes will fit in two. To create columns in Publisher, click on the Columns Icon next to the Paragraph Icon (¶) just to the right of center on the top toolbar.  It should give you a drop-down icon that allows you to choose the number of columns you want by highlighting the columns in the icon.  You’ll then have two columns that are exactly the same size.  To increase the size between columns, go to Format, Text Box, click on the button in the lower right-hand corner that says Columns, and where it says “Spacing,” change that number.  I like 0.25 best.  If I figure out a way to make that the default, I’ll let you know.

Now, all you need to do is figure out what you want to put on your front page!

And, going back to the difference between a newsletter and a magazine, I’d love to add more articles to the MFRW Newsletter.  It’s definitely big enough to be a magazine.  Just think, me, a magazine E-I-C.…  I still wouldn’t get any money for it, but it’d look good in my bio!  Wouldn’t you folks like to be the Cover Models for a magazine?

Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and holds a BA in Communications from Columbia College in Chicago with an emphasis on Creative Writing. “Would you like fries with that?” Her novels Rock Bound and Rock Crazy are available in both e-book and print. She edits for Jupiter Gardens Press, and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, winner of the 2013 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll for Best Writers’ Resource.

Rochelle battles bi-polar disorder, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.” Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. She lives in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. She has two married daughters, four grandchildren, three step-grandkids, and one step-great-grandkid. Two cats allow her to live with them and cater to their every whim.

You can access the MFRW Newsletters at:


Monday, January 5, 2015

Author-to-Author: Talking Dialogue @AuthorLyndaB #MFRWauthor

Talking About Dialogue

So, we’re talking about dialogue. In my humble opinion, dialogue is an intricate part of storytelling—of getting the reader into the story— because it’s an extension of the characters’ personalities. Dialogue isn’t something the reader should ever have to think about. It should just…be. It should be an even flow, a give and take of conversation. If the dialogue reads stilted or forced, the reader is probably not going to hang very long with the book.

The first rule to writing believable dialogueis to make sure it jives with whatever time period you’re using in the story. If you’re writing a Regency story or a Civil War saga featuring slaves, you better be on your game with regard to those vernaculars. I got dinged in a review of my historical western romance because the reader felt I used 2012 terminology for a story set in the 1880s. Ouch! The last thing you want as an author is to have your reader yanked from the story.

Maybe that’s why I choose to write contemporary romance. No need to worry about the proper Scottish dialect for me. But even with contemporaries, you have to be careful. I personally love to use words like “gonna,” “hafta” and “kinda” in dialogue—Spell/Grammar Check be damned. This is how people talk in real life so it’s how my characters are gonna talk. Think about Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. Did he say, “I am trying to take you to the grocery story.”? Uh, no. He said, “I’m tryin’ ta take ya to da store.” Huge difference.

The other thing to keep in mind when writing dialogue is, if your character can say something in five words, have them say it in four. Short, snappy lines makes the reading go faster because more pages are getting turned. It also puts more *white space* on the page. And readers loooooove white space.

As a reader, one of my pet peeves is when the author uses a bunch of he said/she said or he asked/she asked in dialogue. Rather than having Sally say blah, blah, blah, have Sally do something. If she’s upset, have her stomp a foot or glare at the hero. If she’s being coy or shy, have her swish side to side or twist her fingers together. Remember that pesky, yet brilliant advice: show, don’t tell. Don’t tell me who’s talking, but show me by having some action during the dialogue. It helps to solidify the characterizations and makes for a (hopefully) more enjoyable read.

Okay, so I’ve voiced my opinion about dialogue. Do you agree with me or am I barking up the metaphorical tree? Shout out your thoughts and opinions.

Contributed by MFRW author Lynda Bailey.
I’ve always loved stories, especially romances. For me the only thing better than reading a romance is writing one. That and drinking red wine while eating dark chocolate.

My romances are full of passion, with heat levels that range from hot to sizzling! I'm proud to have been a 2010 finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart®. Please join me for laughter and love, and where the good guys always win in the end.

I live in Reno with my husband of thirty+ years and our two pampered pooches.

Lynda's latest book is Shattered Trust, a contemporary BDSM erotic romance.

Kate Landry trusted the wrong man and paid dearly for her mistake. But she survived and raised her daughter alone. At forty-two, Kate has a good living as the owner of the Bluebird Saloon. But she’s forgotten how to live. That is until he comes into her bar…

Liam St. James loved a girl once. And only once. After an accident paralyzed her, she didn’t trust he’d continue to love her. Liam left and discovered a world where women did trust him—to be their Dominant. He’s a master – literally, but the request from the stoic bar owner will pose his greatest challenge yet…

Kate and Liam embark on a journey to uncover repressed urges and to discover new desires. They also fall in love. But when you’ve been shattered as badly as they have, loving is easy. Trusting is harder, especially when the heart is involved…

Learning to love is the easy part...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Promoting Your New Book #MFRWauthor @kayelleallen

Learning vs doing
is what we teach at Marketing for Romance Writers 
It's sad but true that many publishers do nothing for promotion. The tide is changing on that, and more are starting to see if they help there are more sales. (That's not rocket science, is it?) But honestly, most small presses have no concept of promotion other than giving the author free copies to give away. So, what's an author to do?
Here are the basics. I create the following for every book, and teach members of Marketing for Romance Writers to do the same.

  • Review sheet containing the title, author, genre, rating (PG-R), tagline, blurb, buy links (US authors: find your Amazon links for US, UK, DE, AU - your readers will love you). Include your social media links. If you use Twitter, this is not the place to write it as @yourname. Write out the link so someone can click it! You get more users that way. This review sheet will hold all details about the book. Add premade tweets you can copy and share. You'll have every aspect about your book handy for interviews, questions, blog posts, and so on.
  • Covers in sizes 200x300, 500x750 for website, blog, and other guest spots.
  • Excerpt sheet (three different scenes) Try for lengths of 100-150 words, 200 words, 500 words. If you write hot romance, have different heat ratings available.
  • Signature displaying info about the book (used anytime you email), and your social media. Make it easy for people to follow you.
  • Amazon author page. You should have this already set up. If not, build it now. If you're self-pubbed, Amazon adds this to the back of your book, so have it ready.

Nice to have:

  • Banner for the book (468x60 - web standard, 600x400 for blog tours, Twitter promo, etc.)
  • Timeline covers for Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google+
  • Pinterest board for the book and/or characters, or the era you write about

Other Options

Blog spots are great if you can get them. To me, Twitter is essential. People are going to be talking about your book on Twitter whether you are there or not. What hashtags would support your book? A Goodreads author page helps you track reviews there.

Social media isn't something you can do without. What you have and what you do with it is up to you, but it needs to be in your marketing plan. And without making it sound like a footnote, a marketing plan that you follow for all your books will help you avoid a last minute panic. It's great to have it all done, and then be able to just ask for a few blog spots or help with tweets. Having a plan is part of being a professional writer. Are these things easy? No. But neither was writing the book, and your story was worth the work, wasn't it? Don't abandon your book and characters now.

You can do this.

About the Book

Human Perfect 
In the android business, the best of the best are Human Perfect.

About the Author

Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Business of Writing: That Dreaded Synopsis

That dreaded synopsis. I know there are lots of blogs, articles, and handouts on these things. I’ll be honest I hate them. I can do a blurb. It’s not always easy trying to squish your story into a paragraph or two but It does keep you from putting too much in. In romances it’s your two main characters, and your major plot.

The synopsis is where you need to put in more detail. You can add some of your larger secondary characters here and maybe a secondary plot or two. You do have to be careful not to put too much in and that drives me crazy. I don’t know what is too much.

You also need to know the type of synopsis the publisher wants. There are some publishers who only want a page. Maybe two. That’s like a giant blurb. Some want ten pages. That’s like rewriting the book to me.

Writing Tip:
There is no quick and easy solution to writing the synopsis but I can tell you what has worked for me and maybe it will work for you as well. My publisher asks for an outlined synopsis to be sent in when I fill out the forms to get the book into production. I break it down chapter by chapter then put it all together. I find it easier to give a little more detail without giving too much.


Barbara Donlon Bradley wears many hats. She’s a mother, wife, care-giver, author, and editor. She’s a senior editor for Melange Books, and writes for Phaze and Melange books/Satin Romances with over twenty titles under her belt.

Barb's Links: 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#MFRWorg Newbie's World: Why NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS Won't Work @ErinMoore

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Won’t Work
A new year is often a time for new beginnings, a refresh of our priorities and our goals.  We often accompany this time of reflection with a wave of resolutions: I will write 4,000 words per day, I will do two blogs posts per week, I will wake up at 5 am every day in order to market my books. 
But how many of those resolutions do we actually follow through with for the entire year? How many do we keep for longer than a month? Probably not many. Pretty soon, we start slipping back into our old ways. We start hitting the snooze button or saying “not today.”

Resolutions are doomed to fail.
Here’s what I want you to get from this blog, though: that’s normal. In fact, it’s so normal that most psychologists and therapists encourage us not to make resolutions for this very reason: not only do we put added pressure on ourselves, but when we (inevitably) fall into our old patterns, we now also have the guilt of a promise broken.

I found this explanation from Carl Buckheit very illuminating:
The main reason they don’t work for most of us most of the time is because the New Year’s resolution operates by imagining a different future and then putting that future into conflict with the version of us who is doing the imagining in the present. In other words, as soon as we make a New Year’s resolution we have at least two of us there: the one in the future behaving differently and theoretically behaving better, behaving more responsibly, whatever it might be; and we have the present person who is imagining that better future. We have a problem; we have a conflict. 

We have attempted to ally ourselves with the future self against the present self.

What he’s saying is that we need to respect who we already are, and know that what we did in the past was not wrong (or bad). We are simply going to re-align, not change our entire person.
So change is possible! If you do it the right way, you can make all of your marketing goals come true.

Here are some tips:
1.       Little by little is the easiest way to make changes. Just like you can’t lose all twenty pounds in one day, you also cannot write an entire book or complete an entire marketing plan in a few days. Know that each step on the journey takes you closer to being that amazing writer and marketer you want to be.
2.       Make your goals easier on yourself. You are not going to be able to go from zero to sixty, but if you go from zero to five…then that seems more doable for both you and your brain to accept. So maybe “get 50 reviews” is easier to achieve if you think “ask/follow up on one review per week”.
3.       Realize that a little bit is better than nothing. Even if you can only write or market for ten minutes, it is better than not doing anything at all. All of those little ten minute increments during the week add up!  (One trick is to use a timer for a ten or twenty minute sprint.)
4.       Consider putting more energy into your mental state than into actual “doing” something. Affirmations, meditation, and envisioning your dreams can all help you to feel good about everything you do.

So go ahead, tear up that sheet of resolutions. Instead, make one small change this week that is easy and sustainable. And then next week, make one more.

What do you think? How have you brought about changes in your own life?