Monday, November 28, 2011

Meet the Editor and Leave a Comment for a Giveaway

By Sarah Whitney

For this next Conference Sneak Preview, I’m pleased to introduce you to the talented Rhonda Penders. She serves as editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press and is also a romance author in her own right.

TWRP started in May 2006 as a small press and e-publishing company. Today the company is home to over 1,200 romance titles published in both electronic and print format. The company’s premise has been and always will be “a kinder, gentler publishing company.” The company was built on the belief that a publishing contract is a team effort between editor, author and publisher and Rhonda holds tight to that mission statement. Rhonda’s writing background includes everything from small town newspaper reporting to several years writing confessionals for Dorchester magazines. She has several full length novels and short stories published under the name Roni Adams.

As TWRP editor-in-chief, Rhonda will participate in the pitch sessions during the “Write Time! Write Place! Write Now!” Conference. In addition, she will be conducting a breakout session titled, “How to Lose and Editor in Ten Days” where she will share tips from her five-year experience as the co-owner of a small publishing house. She will also present a breakout titled “The Difference Between Women’s Fiction and Romance” where she will explain what is a romance novel or what the difference is between women’s fiction and romance.

Sarah: Rhonda, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about yourself and The Wild Rose Press. We’re looking forward to hearing your take on the market and especially what types of novels you’d like to see.

Rhonda: Thank you so much Sarah.  I am looking forward to joining you next Spring at your conference and I appreciate the chance to answer your questions ahead of time. 

Sarah: To get us started, could you explain what you do as editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press?

Rhonda:  My main role is to oversee the editing department.  In particular to be there in the event that a situation arises that requires my attention.  For example if an editor has an issue with an author or an author has an issue with an editor. I’m also there to help in the acquisition process.  While our Senior Editors make the final decisions on what is acquired, I’m brought in when something isn’t exactly clear cut.   

In addition to my role as Editor-in-Chief, I also work very closely with the Marketing Department and a large chunk of my day is spent on helping with promotion and marketing plans.

Sarah: While visiting your web site,, I noticed that separate genres have different names, like contemporary romance is the Champange Rose line or romantic westerns is the Cactus Rose Line. Could you explain how TWRP is organized? And how does an author figure out who they should submit a query to?

Rhonda: TWRP is organized into several subgenres of romance.  The Historical Department, for example is broken into four main categories – Cactus Rose – (Western Historicals), American Rose (historical romance that took place on American soil), English Tea Rose (these include the Regencies, Highlanders, any historical romance taking place overseas) and Vintage Rose is for romances that take place between early 1900’s and 1980.  Hard to believe but 1980 is Vintage! 

Our Contemporary Lines are split up by level of heat – Scarlet is of course our erotic line, Champagne is the next hottest, and then there is the Sweetheart which is our sweeter romances. Yellow Rose is a line devoted strictly to modern day cowboys, cowgirls or ranchers.  These stories can be hot and spicy or sweet but if the story is set on a ranch anywhere it’s a Yellow Rose.  Crimson Rose is romantic suspense and the Paranormal Department is made up of Faery Rose and Black Rose.  Faery Rose is the lighter paranormal such as good witches, sprites, faeries and Black Rose has to do with vampires, shapeshifters and demons, etc. 

As far as which line to submit an author should review the website to see where the manuscript fits.  For example if it’s a contemporary romance and the hero and heroine have sex but its behind closed doors or not fully described only implied than that would put it in the Sweetheart Rose line.  If the romance is set on a ranch and the hero is a cowboy then it’s a Yellow Rose submission. 

Sarah: So, what kind of novels do you publish at The Wild Rose Press? Is there anything that you haven’t seen, that you would absolutely love to receive a pitch on?

Rhonda: We only publish adult romance, although in several different subgenres.  I can’t think of anything we haven’t seen but I will say that right now short stories are all the rage.  They are selling quite well and we can’t seem to get enough of them – and that goes for all the lines not just one.

Sarah: I noticed that the Black Rose Line has an open submissions call for Pagan holiday stories between 20,000-40,000 words. Is this a submission call for a series? Could you explain what this is, and if or how it’s different from a query for a full manuscript? Are there other lines that have open submissions between now and April?

Rhonda: From time to time our editors will ask for something specific such as the Pagan  holiday stories.  They will be released under the Black Rose line as part of the Pagan holiday series.  We have a few series running right now such as Cowboy Kink in the Scarlet Rose line and The Millionaire Club in Champagne. 

Sarah: It can be intimidating to participate in a pitch session even for veterans. Could you give us some advice on what to expect, especially for any first-timers, if we pitch you? Any words of advice on what to do or pitfalls to avoid?

Rhonda:  The first thing I tell anyone who pitches to me is to relax.  I’m just an everyday girl who puts her jeans on one leg at a time just like you.  I’m a writer just like you and there’s nothing to be nervous about.  Generally, once people meet me some of the fear eases when they see I’m completely normal and easy going.

Sarah: TWRP also publishes e-books. What type of response, regarding e-books, are you receiving from readers? Are they popular?

Rhonda: eBooks are extremely popular and the entire industry is exploding in popularity.  A few years ago, readers couldn’t imagine not picking up a print book to read their favorite romance now they are in love with their Kindles or iPhones or Nooks and are constantly looking for more ebooks.  Print sales are diminishing more every year.

Sarah:  In addition to your role at TWRP, you’re also a romance author, publishing under the name Roni Adams. You recently released a new book, ‘The Chauffeur Wears an Evening Gown.’  It sounds like a lot of fun. Could you tell us about it? Where did you come up with the idea?

Rhonda:  Wow you do your homework, Sarah.  Lol.  The Chauffeur Wore an Evening Gown is a short story published in our Champagne Rose line.  It actually kicked off the Millionaire’s Club.  In my story my heroine fills in for her brother as a chauffeur to JR Stone.  JR Stone is on his way to the Governor’s Ball to accept the biggest award of his night when his date calls to break up with him.  He convinces Erin to help him out and pretend to be his date but once the night ends JR is determined to win Erin’s real love.

Sarah: Finally, I think it’s fair to say that TWRP is dedicated not only to helping its authors but also ‘rose’budding authors succeed through its Rose Trellis program, which helps writers connect with other writers through critique groups. In your experience, how valuable is it for writers to connect with other writers, either through critique groups, conferences, and organizations like the Missouri Writers Guild or Romance Writers of America?

Rhonda:  I honestly don’t know how authors, especially new authors, can make it without the support of other writers.  Our Rose Trellis was designed to connect writers with other writers to form a critique partnership or critique on-line group.  It is extremely beneficial for writers to be able to connect with each other and organizations such as the Missouri Writers Guild, RWA and other writing groups whether in person or online give writers a huge edge over a writer who doesn’t have that type of connection.  

Rhonda, thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing your insights into TWRP. If readers would like to learn more about Rhonda, they can visit her author website or

You can schedule a pitch session with Rhonda today by registering for this year’s conference over on the Missouri Writers’ Guild web site. In addition, if you register before Dec. 31, you’ll lock in the early bird registration rates and get even more savings!

Thank you for visiting, and let us know what you think. We always love feedback, so if you have any additional questions for Rhonda or conference questions for Tricia, feel free to ask them below in the comments. One lucky commenter will win a Missouri Writers’ Guild Tote Bag with the 2012 conference logo.Comments must be posted by December 5th. As always, sharing this interview via Twitter, Blog posts and Facebook will earn you extra chances to win! Just let us know how you spread the word when you comment.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Behind the Books with Literary Agent Ann Behar and a Tote Giveaway

It’s always been about books, literary agent Ann Behar wrote in her bio. Ms. Behar took a wandering path to becoming a literary agent at Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, Inc. Stops included earning a law degree from the University of San Diego Law School and becoming a full-time mother and wife.

 In 2002, she decided to return to work and found “one of the few businesses in the world where an English degree and a law degree are equally valuable.” She joined SCG.
Five years later, she took over the firm’s list of juvenile writers and has been searching for “wonderful children’s books, from picture books to YA, ever since.”
Her path has now led her to the “Write Time! Write Place! Write Now!” Conference slated for April 20-22, 2012, where she will listen to pitches from attendees. In her bio, she described the type of work she hopes to find:
“I am looking for anything that is beautifully written, with a strong, distinct voice and characters that come alive on the page. Ideally, a book should grab my attention from the very beginning and hold it there, and leave me thinking about it for a few days after I am finished.”
She is currently open to queries via e-mail only. Submission guidelines are here

Sarah: Ann, thank you for taking the time answer a few questions today about your upcoming visit to the Missouri Writers’ Guild conference. You are the first agent I’ve interviewed for our conference preview, so I’m looking forward to your responses.  I’ll begin with the question, the answer to which, everyone wants to know. You’ve given a general overview of the type of writing that perks your interest. Do you have specific types of manuscripts you would love to find? Or specific types of work you are tired of seeing in your slush pile?

Ann:  I’m not being coy or evasive when I say I am looking for anything that is exquisitely written, with vibrant characters and a compelling plot. I have a book coming out this summer about a human girl and vampire boy who fall in love.  Hello? Although part of me felt I had to steer clear of a book with such a TWILIGHT reminiscent plot, the writing turned out to be so extraordinary, the protagonist so unique and authentic, the setting so rich and textured, I just had to try and sell it.  And I did! Am I seeing too many queries for paranormal, dystopian and steampunk-based books? Yes, but great writing will always catch my eye, seduce me and hold me in its clutches.

Sarah: Cory Doctorow, one of your authors, has released several of his books under a creative commons license. Has this been an effective marketing tool for him? What are your thoughts, from an agent’s perspective, regarding authors releasing work under a CC license?

Ann: It has been rocket fuel for Cory, but like all rocket fuel it has to be handled with extreme care, by experts.  I am certainly not going to come on here and say, "Hey everyone, release your works for free!" as if it were just another personal marketing technique like tweeting.  It has worked for Cory because he has applied it intelligently, working in close consultation with his agents and publishers.
Cory has a well-thought out philosophy about the free sharing of ideas and he believes strongly in the vision of the Creative Commons license. Starting from that vision, he uses the CC philosophy as the cornerstone of a marketing strategy involving free PDFs of his work.

Others who are not prepared to sign on to the CC attitude toward copyright can still benefit from the idea of giving stuff away in order to gain new fans.

For our client Diana Gabaldon we give away free mass market books -- actual books. For our client James Rollins we have given away free audio books and $1.99 ebooks. Other clients have given away (or sold at a very low price) novellas set in their signature universes, as a reward for fans or a way for new readers to dip a toe in their waters.  None of these involves a CC license.
It's all about getting new readers to try something. CC licenses are a very powerful way to do that and they integrate well into Cory's larger approach to copyright freedom. But writers who aren't yet willing to go that far can still take advantage of the basic idea.  Particularly if you've got a series. If you lose money on free copies of your first novel but as a result your later novels triple in sales, are you going to complain?

Sarah: It seems like a majority of your authors write some version of juvenile fantasy or science fiction. Is there something about these genres that appeals to you? If so, could you give us more insight into what you like in a juvenile fantasy or science fiction novel?

Ann: My agency became known for adult science fiction and fantasy long ago, as Russ represents Arthur C. Clarke, Terry Goodkind, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mercedes Lackey and so many other fantasy and science fiction greats. So I suppose it’s natural I would get a lot of queries about science fiction and fantasy juvenile books. But I cannot tell a lie, these genres were never favorites of mine personally. I have read very few adult science fiction or fantasy novels. I’m more of an Anthony Trollope fan! But at the risk of being repetitive, if a book is extraordinary, I don’t care if it’s about faeries, dragons or stamp collecting. A great writer can make any subject gripping.  So, a fantasy or science fiction novel would have to have three-dimensional characters that I come to care about immediately, a detailed, fascinating world that makes me feel as if I am a part of, and a tightly structured plot that holds my attention from the start to finish.

Sarah: What advice would you give to writers who are considering pitching you at the conference?

Ann: Tell me about the plot as succinctly as possible, and briefly outline the main characters in a way that makes them sound like people I’d like to meet. And I want to know the protagonist’s goal, and the consequences if that goal is not attained. Be prepared to let me read a sample, so I can get a sense of the voice. And finally, have a thick skin. I’m pretty blunt. But I try to be constructive!

Sarah:  If a writer were to query you, what is your average response time? 

Ann:  Sometimes I get a chance to start reading a manuscript and know right away it’s not for me. In a case like that, I will get back to the author within a week. But if that doesn’t happen, I try to have a response in 1-2 months. 

Sarah: Once you’ve signed a client, how do you define your role as their agent?

Ann: It is my job to help clients forge a career as a full-time writer, and shepherd them through it every step of the way. I am their advocate. I am committed to making their experience in the publishing process  as smooth and easy as possible, so they can do what they do best—write. I want to give them the confidence that I am handling everything besides the writing: submissions, contracts, subrights, bookkeeping, etc. In addition, I absolutely love to edit, and many clients send me pages from new projects and ask for my response, and we work on it together until we are happy with it.

Sarah: Thank you again, Ann, for sharing your insights with us. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we appreciate your advice for the upcoming conference and general publishing insights.
Ann is one of several agents participating in the individual pitch sessions this year. If you think Ann might be a good agent to pitch, you can learn more about her by reading her spotlight on Literary Rambles, a blog all about “Children’s Book Authors, Agents and Publishing” or by visiting the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency website.

All pitch sessions are assigned first come, first serve. You can request a pitch session with Ann today by registering for this year’s conference over on the Missouri Writers’ Guild web site. In addition, if you register before Dec. 31, you’ll lock in the early bird registration rates and get even more savings!
Thank you for visiting, and let us know what you think. We always love feedback, so if you have any additional questions for Ann or conference questions for Tricia, feel free to ask them below in the comments. One lucky commenter will win a Missouri Writers’ Guild Tote Bag with the 2012 conference logo. Please post your comments by November, 26th. As always, sharing this interview via Twitter, Blog posts and Facebook will earn you extra chances to win! Just let us know how you spread the word when you comment.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Whip Your Literary Ambitions into Shape at the MWG Conference with Writing Coach Christina Katz

This week’s conference preview features Christina Katz, the author of three books from Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before the Book Deal, and Writer Mama. Her writing career tips and parenting advice appear regularly in national, regional, and online publications. Christina is a popular speaker on career growth and presents at writing conferences such as AWP, ASJA, PNWA, OWFI, and Willamette Writers. She is also often featured at literary events, MFA writing programs, and libraries. Christina is the creator and host of the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon, where she lives with her husband, her daughter, and far too many pets.

Christina will be the Missouri Writers’ Guild’s keynote speaker for the Show Me Spotlight Awards Banquet on Saturday Night. After listening to her motivational speech called “Never a Better Time to be a Writer,” writers should expect to find that extra burst of willpower needed to help them to find the “Write Time, Write Place to Write Now!”

Christina will also present two breakout sessions, “Six Steps to Crafting Better Nonfiction Queries” and “The Five Workouts Every Empowered Writer Needs to Prosper in the Gig Economy.” On Sunday, she will teach a 3-hour long workshop called “Power Up Your Platform for the Internet Age.”

Christina, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your participation with the upcoming 2012 Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference. We’re looking forward to having you attend and help us get into writing shape.

Thank you! I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the conference.

Question: To get us started, during the Saturday Night Show Me Spotlight Awards Banquet you will be giving the Keynote Speech titled “Never a Better Time to Be a Writer.” We’ve posted a brief description of your speech on our conference web page, but could you tell us a little bit more about it?

A: These days, most writers realize that they have to treat their writing like a business, write well enough to compete in the marketplace, sell themselves and their work on a daily basis, serve readers via their unique writer-reader dynamic, and cultivate a prosperous long-term platform that will keep them visible. I am going to attempt to convince everyone that all of the hard work and juggling that we are all doing is going to pay off for us in the short run and the long run. Our forced evolution from mere writers to career producers insures the survival and success of more writers than the old system ever did.

Q: You’ve helped hundreds of aspiring authors achieve their goals of becoming published authors and writers. What is one of the more common challenges that aspiring authors encounter and how do you help them face it?

A: The three most common stumbling blocks for writers are: lack of confidence, lack of experience, and lack of willingness. In my mind, all three of these go together and can appear in the form of a stuck writer, who is scared, unwilling to learn new things, or resists hard work. Contrast this with my typical student, who understands that the journey is the destination and who wants to learn and grow every day, whether those daily successes are big or small. The willing, motivated, humble writer, who knows that there will always be new mountains to climb tomorrow is the type most editors prefer. These writers go on to achieve major milestones like landing a book deal, but it’s never Bing! Bang! Boom! Success is always the result of slow, steady, and consistent effort that results in a solid body of work that grows over time.

Q: Your breakout session “The Five Workouts Every Empowered Writer Needs to Prosper in the Gig Economy” is a 75 minute presentation where attendees will undergo “five workouts that will stretch their minds and inspire their bottom lines.” What do you mean by workouts? We don’t need to wear comfy clothes and bring a water bottle, do we? J

A: Nope! All the workouts we will do are mental exercises designed to help me hold up a mirror to each writer in the hopes that his or her career strengths will be reflected back more clearly.

Maybe between now and April, writers can think about why they even want to write in the first place. It’s so important that writers, who strive for publication and critical acclaim, know why they write, and mentally organize the writing they do based on the intended purpose and reader. This way a writer can put the writing that is for publication through the appropriate paces instead of hoping for a miracle.

Q: You’ve written a detailed definition of author platform on your web site. Then you said you’ll have a lot more to say about platform in your upcoming book, The Writer’s Workout, 366 Tips, Tasks & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach (Dec. 2011 – Click here to preorder.) Could you give us a sneak peek at one or two of those 366 tips, tasks and techniques?

A: I sure can. Here is an excerpt of The Writer’s Workout on Scribd that contains twelve sample chapters. I think this excerpt will give you a pretty good idea of tone and scope of the book. Feel free to share the link with your membership. Hopefully, there are a few helpful tidbits in there.

Q: You’ve written another book about building author platforms called Get Known Before the Book Deal. You’ve written an article here, which you’ve made available for others to post on their blogs, about why this important. My question, though, is do you have any tips for balancing our actual writing against the time it takes to build a platform?

A: Sure. The appropriate time to launch your platform is when you are ready for readers. This is most likely when you start to have some publishing momentum. Once you do, gather up some helpful how-to resources on platform building and get to work hammering out your identity, mission, audience, and dynamic. If you don’t know what you are writing or for whom you are writing or why the reader will care about what you are writing, don’t take steps to build your platform yet. The reader rules. More specifically: your reader rules. When you do what’s best for the reader, you don’t have to worry about much else.

Q: In a Q&A over at Tweet Magazine, you talked about how to be successful on Twitter. I’m curious about what you tell aspiring authors and writers who aren’t on social media. Should they be developing a Twitter and Facebook presence, or have their own blog? Should they get into social media before they’re published or wait until they have their book, short stories, poetry, etc. published. What do you think?

A: If you are a professional writer, then writing goes at the center of your career. When I interviewed a dozen successful novelists for Writer’s Digest magazine on the topic of platform development, they all said the same thing: if the writing isn’t excellent, there is no career to talk about. So if writing isn’t at the center of your career, you’re career will suffer.

I see social media as an aspect of platform development that comes later, after the writing is done, or at least almost done, and the platform development work has been launched. So if you are in the process of forming a professional identity, don’t sweat social media until you understand your unique writer-reader dynamic. We’ll discuss how to find your specific dynamic in my three-hour workshop on Sunday, if anyone is interested.

Q:  It’s obvious you have a special desire to help women and especially mothers. On your website,, you’ve compiled a list of books written by women. In addition, your first book, Writer Mama, is specifically targeted toward moms. Why is it important to you to help moms who are also working at building their writing careers?

A: I decided to take my desire to become a professional writer more seriously once I realized that there would be a little pair of eyes watching me every day. I decided to be true to who I am and set a good example for my daughter’s sake by doing what I love. Today my daughter is nine and she is a prolific artist, writer, dancer, singer, and actress. She’s still a typical tween, of course, and I can’t take all the credit for how she is, but I feel like I make the right decision every day to champion myself and other women in a world that seems incapable of respecting women in the first place.

Helping moms tap into their ideas so they can communicate them clearly is my specialty, but not everything I do. I think an outsider could try and dismiss my work as perpetuating the phenomenon of “housewife writers,” but that’s not what it’s about and the women who work with me over time know it. They become more professionally empowered, confident, and resilient writers over time. They develop a trust in sounding their clear, authentic note in the cacophony—and I think that’s an important step for anyone right now.

I want my students to respect what they have to express, and let that lead. To paraphrase Rumi—to let what they love be what they do—but in as grounded, and service-oriented a manner as possible. This is my great hope for every writer. And that’s where all the joy and satisfaction are, for me.

Christina, thank you again for taking the time to visit the Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference Blog. I hope what you’ve talked about today will help everyone get motivated to continue improving their writing career.

Great interview! Thanks so much for having me.

Christina’s new book, The Writer’s Workout, comes out in December so she has offered to give away one copy of each of her other Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama.
Leave a comment below by November 18th, telling Tricia and me how you shared this blog and your name will be entered once for each way you shared. (Blog Comment below, 1 entry. Facebook post, 1 entry. Twitter with link, 1 entry, etc. Your own blog post with link, 1 entry).
If you’d like to learn more from Christina, you don’t have to wait until our “Write Time! Write Place! Write Now!” Conference. She offers a variety of classes and training groups through her web site,  Find her on Twitter @thewritermama or on her Facebook Page. Learn more about her upcoming book, The Writers Workout and her other motivational writing books.

Be sure to subscribe to the MWG conference blog so you don’t miss any of our upcoming interviews. Next week, we will be spotlighting our first agent in this space, Ann Behar with Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency.

Judging by the quality of interviews from Christina, Christy Craig, Claire Cooke and Susan McBride, this year’s Missouri Writers’ Guild annual conference will be an event anyone who wants to improve their craft will not want to miss. So, be sure to head over to because conference registration is now open!
Register before Dec. 31 to lock in the discounted conference rates of $135 for guild members, $145 for chapter members and $165 for the general public.
And in the mean time, remember that today is always the write time and write place to write now!