Sunday, July 28, 2013

Learning Comedy Tricks From Movies

My husband and I love stories, whether they are found in movies or books. I find there is a lot to learn from screenwriters. This past weekend, we finally watched The Lone Ranger. We, of course, had watched the television series as children. The screenwriters altered the characters and Johnny Depp had his own version of Tonto.We wouldn't expect less from Johnny. My favorite dialogue in the story comes near the end. The Lone Ranger says the long awaited line, "Hi ho Silver away!" Tonto replies, "Don't ever say that again."

Because the response was the total opposite of what we would expect, it caught us off guard and it was humorous. When writing comedy, remember this trick. Ask yourself what the expected response should be and then what would be the opposite response.

Fantastic Opportunity for Writers!

2013 Hot Prospects Contest
Sponsor: Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

****Permission to forward****

Looking to sign your first book contract, switch from a small press to a large
publisher or simply explore another genre of romantic fiction? Turn up the heat
on your writing career with the Hot Prospects Contest.

GRAND PRIZE: The grand prize winner of the contest will have their entire manuscript (400 pages, Courier, 12pt, Double spaced) reviewed by two professional editors at The Author's Red Room.

Announcement by a former winner:

I entered the Hot Prospects contest in 2011 and placed first in the Contemporary Single Title category and won the Grand Prize overall with my erotic legal thriller, Legally Mastered (now Legal Heat by Sarah Castille). The feedback I got from the contest judges was invaluable in helping me polish my book and that year I landed an agent, and a publishing contract with Samhain Publishing and then a second publishing contract with Sourcebooks Casablanca the following year. The Hot Prospects contest was very well run and I recommend it to all my romance writer friends.

Fee: $25 for Valley of the Sun RW chapter members
$30 for non-chapter members
Chapter website has PayPal capability.

Postmark Deadline: September 1st, 2013
E-Submit Deadline: September 1st, 2013

Eligibility: The Hot Prospects Contest is open to any work uncontracted and
unpublished at the time of entry.

Enter: 3-5-page synopsis and up to the first 25 pages of story (30 pages max). Entry or
synopsis may be shorter, but neither may be longer than specified.

Categories/Judges: Trained judges for preliminary round

Final round judges

1) Historical/Regency

Editor - Holly Blanck, St. Martins
Senior Editor - Esi Sogah, Kensington

2) Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal

Assistant Editor - Kelly Quinn, Tor
Editor –Kristine Swartz, Assistant Editor, The Berkley Publishing Group 

3) Romantic Suspense

Editorial Assistant- Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
Editor Samhain -Tera Kleinfelter

4) Contemporary Long/Single Title

Editor –Deborah Werksman, Sourcebooks, Inc
Editor at large, Sue Grimshaw, Random House

5) Series Contemporary
Associate Editor – Johanna Raisanen, Harlequin
Senior Editor Sweetheart Rose – Leanne Morgena, The Wild Rose Press

For More Information, entry form, and rules, see website at For questions please email

Those entries that do not final will be returned approximately October 30th,
2013 to help those who plan to enter RWA's Golden Heart.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rethink Your Villain

I am currently plotting another suspense and halfway through I hit a wall. I needed to get away from the paper for awhile. I spent time with friends and watched movies. Later, I reflected on how I wanted my readers to feel while reading the story. That is when I realized I needed to rethink my villain. I wanted my readers to be truly scared while enjoying the story, so I had to be afraid for my hero and heroin. My villain needed to be truly horrifying and so I turned my original villain into a red herring and now I am ready to move forward. Amazingly, all of the pieces were already in place so it was a simple change in direction. Sometimes I think the story already exists in the dark shadows of our minds and we have to reach in and pull it out scene by scene. Just a thought.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Love's Miracles by Sandra Lee Smith

This month I would like to introduce Sandra Lee Smith and her new book Love's Miracles.

Dr. Margo Devaull came to Dominic Zanelli's mountain retreat confident that she could help this Vietnam veteran overcome the torment that kept him apart from the world. But her training as a psychologist had not prepared her for the tragic, explosive contradictions brewing inside him. For here was a sensitive artist who could be gentle – and a man whose eyes flashed with violence and pain when he told her to leave and never come back. Yet Margo did come back, slowly gain his trust, and awaken the sleeping needs of his heart. Only by reliving her own wounded past and helping Zane confront a terrible memory from the war could she set them both free – and save their last chance for love.

Love's Miracles is available for purchase at Amazon

You can learn more about Sandra and her other books at

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reviews: Should We Rely On Them?

Reviews: should we rely on them? With the popularity of the Internet growing, many review sites are popping up everywhere. Amazon encourages their customers to write reviews. Most of the reviews I have read appear to be a fair account of that reader's experience. Because they have room to explain, we often know why they liked or didn't like a book. And, because we all have varying taste, one person may not like a book, but five others may have enjoyed their reading experience. I rarely rely on one review when deciding whether or not to purchase a book and I won't let one or two bad reviews prevent me from buying a book if there are just as many positive reviews. I will also read the blurb and the excerpt.

I admit, when I read reviews about Audiobooks, I do keep an eye out for complaints about the voice of the person presenting the story. If I'm hesitant about purchasing the download, I will listen to the sample to make sure the voice of the reader won't ruin the experience.

Do I rely on reviewers? I believe in looking at more than one review when deciding if I should purchase a book. It is now going to be my practice for choosing movies as well. My husband and I were trying to decide on a movie and I looked at the newspaper reviews. Once before, I wondered what standard this reviewer used to judge movies. After last night, I don't trust his reviews for my viewing pleasure. I had been thinking of going to see the new Lone Ranger movie, but he only gave it two stars. He gave Heat, which I enjoyed, three stars; so when he gave This is the End four stars, I thought it had to be a great comedy. He doesn't give out many four star ratings. To be fair, the movie is making a lot of money at the box office. The movie is a satire of both horror films and celebrity lifestyles. I did laugh and even screamed, so it wasn't a total waste, but it was also crude, very crude. I decided the reviewer must enjoy what I call teen boy humor. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, only that if I were pitching the story, I would say it is aimed for young males. I wish I had known this when he wrote his review. I didn't appreciate spending $30-$40 at the theater for this viewing experience. I probably would have watched it on DVD because of the trailers and not have been upset because it wouldn't have cost so much. Walking out of the theater, I wished I had seen The Lone Ranger. I learned a valuable lesson: read more than one review for movies, too.

So, should we rely on reviewers? Not totally and not just one reviewer. Word of mouth from people who share your taste, several reviews, excerpts, trailers...can all be combined to help you make an informed decision.