Welcome to Our World-Building blog

Welcome! We weave dreams, some dark, some not, but all fantastic.

We are authors of Fantasy, Romance, and much more. Enter our infinite worlds....

On this blog, our visitors will find advice and opinion from published authors on much more than just world-building. We'll tell you in Craft and Opinion posts what we do, how we do it, and what we think works for us.

Authors with A-names post on the 1st of each month, B-names post on the 2nd, C-names on the 3rd etc.
The 29th, 30th, and 31st are free-for-all days.

Monday, January 26, 2009

POWER TITLES by Adele Dubois

In 2008 I presented a workshop for Romance Writers of America chapter Valley Forge Romance Writers called POWER TITLES. A short article based on the workshop followed and was published in several RWA chapter publications.

Since writers seem to find the POWER TITLES information helpful, I'm posting the article here. Please give proper credit when referencing this article.

POWER TITLES by Adele Dubois

Your book title is a powerful marketing tool. Whether your romance novel sits on a bookstore shelf, is listed on an e-publisher site, or is yet an unpublished manuscript, your title makes a critical first impression on readers and editors. Does your title have that wow factor that hooks your target readership and makes them want to know more? Is your ‘working title’ so powerful your publisher will approve it?

Here are tips on how to write a ‘working title’ that will increase your chances of publisher acceptance when your contract is signed.

• Keep it short. A great title should be read at a glance. Four words are the maximum recommended length, but three words or less is best.

• Encapsulate your genre. Your title should offer a snapshot of your story genre (Romance) and sub-genre (Paranormal, erotic, suspense, comedy, science fiction, fantasy, inspirational, historical, etc.).

• Use compelling key words that evoke vivid mental pictures. A strong visual of your story concept creates the emotional response needed to produce sales.

• Make it original. Use ‘power words’ in combination that are fresh and memorable. Be unique.

• Be cool and current. Avoid old-fashioned expressions, cliché, glib, pretentious or trite language.

• Use active, not passive, phrases. DESERT FEVER is active. “Fever in the Desert” is passive and packs less punch.

Editor Advice:

Raelene Gorlinksy, Publisher, Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publishing, says, “Have a focus word. Make it grab the reader—it should be interesting or intriguing or suggestive.”

Hilary Sares, Editor, Kensington Publishing Corp., says, “Long, Latinate, erudite titles seem to be a particular weakness of newbie historical authors…ditto legal thriller writers. The contemps, anything goes—but authors often get too ‘telly’ or too trite. I wish I had a nickel for every contemp romance I saw that was called Second Chances. If you want your manuscript to be remembered, try to do better than that.”

Rhonda Penders, Editor-In-Chief of The Wild Rose Press, says, “Titles with double meanings are always fun for the erotic reads. Something different, unusual. If you have the same title as a dozen other books it doesn't work. You want to be unique and original without being too strange. Titles, like covers, are big marketing pieces, and sometimes it’s best to let the marketing department help the editor and author choose what would work best for a story… The best advice I can give is to make it catchy, cute if it fits the story, and make it grab the reader.”

© Adele Dubois 2008

Adele Dubois is the author of DESERT FEVER, INTIMATE ART, DREAM TRAVELER, and MOTORCYCLE HEAT-- titles Adele created that were approved by her publishers at Ellora’s Cave and Loose Id. POWER TITLES Workshop available upon request. Visit Adele’s website and blog at www.adeledubois.com/


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bad Reviews - Understanding and Dealing as a New Author

I originally posted this on MySpace back in September 2008 after receiving my first bad review. I was inspired not only by what I considered the less than professional attitude of the reviewer, but by knowing that not every writer who is starting out has a thick skin like mine. I credit my stubborn streak to my family background; I'm Irish, Cherokee, and German. I wrote this for all those writers/authors out there who have been devastated by a single thoughtless comment from a reviewer.

As a newly published writer, I was very lucky with not only my publisher, but also my first reviews. I nearly gave myself an aneurysm with the first review, which was far better than I ever expected. Of course, I'd told one of my best friends that I was looking forward to the first bad review. Now you may ask why? Why would someone want an actually bad review?

The point is that I wanted get it out of my hair. So many writers take bad reviews personally and I've seen some writers run for the hills at the first sign of a critical look at their writing. Speaking for myself, my stories are like my children, I nurture them, and then release them into the world to face everything the world has to offer. Personally, I have always been my own worst critic. I never believe that my work is good enough and if someone can actually say something critical that will make me think, really think, then I am more than open to the idea of graciously accepting the criticism. After all I've been writing non-professionally for 9 years on-line and I credit the people I met over the years for making me a better writer and helping me to this point.

This is a fine stance to have until you run into what I call a literary snob. Now that may not be the nicest way of describing these people, but it's definitely the most straightforward way. My own personal experiences with such people have made me realize that they are one of three categories:

a) Writers successful in their field who have forgotten what it's like to be a struggling writer.

b) Frustrated writers who can't seem to get their foot in the door.

c) Writers/Non-writers with a close minded attitude when it comes to certain genres.

In my humble opinion, if you are going to step into the position of a reviewer then you have to have a certain mindset.

a) Keep an open mind. Just because the story in question is not of a genre you read exclusively that does not make it trash. Don't like the genre and you work for a site where you can pick and chose--don't pick it.

b) Look at the publisher. For example - Are they a publisher that focuses on certain aspects of a genre? Do they prefer PWP (plot what plot) or do they prefer plot over sex? If you prefer PWP then go with works published by those publishers. If you like plot with your sex go with those works.

c) Look at the writer. Are they a new writer? Someone who is just getting into the field of writing? If this is the case, keep that in mind. Writers tend to grow as they write. Few if any writers come out of the gate as expert authors.

d) Maturity and consideration. There are ways to get your point across without being rude or demeaning. If the editing was done badly suggest the writer try for a better editor next time. If there are problems with the characters, suggest the writer spend more time fleshing the characters out prior to writing the story. Insulting a writer in a crude and obnoxious manner says more about the reviewer than it does about the writer.

My first bad review was met by me with much laughter. First the reviewer did not get the title right and even had the location incorrect. Last time I checked Illinois is not considered the South. It was obvious that the book in question was not the type that they would normally read. I ascertained this by checking out previous reviews done by the same person. Comments about the sex scenes along with understanding this was not the reviewers taste confirmed that they preferred a rawer sexual scene as opposed to an emotionally based sex scene. And finally, it was apparent that the plot seemed to get in the way as well as the type of characters. The fact that a character is a man does not mean he can't be emotional.

Example: One character in question had fainted due to blood loss. The other a psychic medium passed out as a direct result of a spirit taking over his body. A negative comment about this was made.

In the end, I got the distinct impression that the reviewer had not actually read the book, but rather skimmed through it quickly focusing in on anything that they personally found disagreeable. Prior to this review, I'd received four reviews all of which enjoyed the book; one from a site that focuses on GLBTQ books exclusively.

This is why I say to those fellow newbie writers that are out there do not take everything a reviewer says as a personal insult. Reviewers are people just like the rest of us and sometimes they have bad days. That doesn't excuse them from being rude though. To be a writer it's necessary to have a thick skin and an understanding that the review sometimes says more about the reviewer than about the writer's talent.

Happy Writing!


Monday, January 19, 2009


Researching for fantasy fiction is so much fun! I read about far away lands, ancient cultures and mythical creatures. I collect coffee-table books on any topic. When I need inspiration, I flip through them and look at the beautiful artwork. That's how I came up with the idea for my story "Barbegazi." Perusing my favorite, "Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were," I came across a tiny paragraph about these yeti-like creatures. Of course, yetis are all the rage now with the new "Mummy" movie bringing them to everyone's attention. The Barbegazi are the yetis' cousins from the Alps. Here's a fun background article I wrote for my own fantasy short "Barbegazi." And oh, this image is a needle-felted 'painting' I made from wool.

Who are the Barbegazi?

The Barbegazi are a race of gnome-like people who live in the high reaches of the Alps. The name, Barbegazi, is a corruption of the French “Barbe Glacee”, which means beard of ice. Like most fairy-folk, stories surrounding the Barbegazi vary widely, but a few generalities link all the myths. First, is their miraculous feet. Big enough to be snowshoes, these feet can also used as skis and shovels. A Barbegazi can dig through ice and snow like a mole through soft ground.

Because of this digging skill, Barbegazi sightings are rare. A Barbegazi can dig himself in and out of deep snow within seconds, and only the most experienced tracker will ever know he was there.

Barbegazi don’t fear avalanches but instead, ride snow falls like surfers. Other than hunting, a Barbegazi spends most of his life playing in the snow. In fact, “snow tipping” is an art form to the Barbegazi. It requires much skill, dexterity and imagination to prod the snow croppings into the spectacular avalanches that the Barbegazi ride for sport.

Most legends describe the Barbegazi as short stocky people with long white hair and beards, that are covered in icicles. For many years, it was believed that they wore long coats of white fur, perhaps ermine, but recent evidence supports the theory that the white fur is actually the Barbegazi’s own pelt, and is perhaps the impetus behind the myths of the yeti, and other abominable snow monsters.

Another misconception is that the Barbegazi hibernate during the warmer months. Indeed, the summer sun is a hazard to the cold-loving people. The Barbegazi have a thin layer of frost on their skin above a thick layer of blubber to insulate them. The few Barbegazi who have been captured and brought down to more temperate climates have died within hours. The layer of frost melts first and then the Barbegazi appears to boil in his own skin, a horrible and painful death. Despite their loathing of warmer weather, the Barbegazi do not hibernate. Instead, they migrate to the highest reaches of the mountains, where the snow never melts. They live in shallow caves, but never venture too deep into warm heart of the mountain.

Though the Barbegazi have been known to help lost hikers, warn of impending avalanches or herd lost sheep after a blizzard, they are a shy race and do not welcome outsiders. They are excellent hunters and the most daring will venture down into the green forest to gather late fall berries. They can carve almost anything out of ice, and whittle icicles the way we might whittle a stick. Barbegazi ice horns sound much like an owl and can be heard for miles along the mountain summit. The Barbegazi use these horns to coordinate hunting and to communicate among clans.


Read more about the Barbegazi at www.kimmcdougall.com
Learn more about needlefelting at www.kimchatel.com/KCArt.html

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attractive groynes

What do groynes have to do with speculative fiction?
Not a lot, you might say.

On the other hand, look at them! One is split, I could put my hand right through it, and the might of the sea has jammed a boulder inside the cleft. It made me think of the legend of Merlin!

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Strange Coincidence

Isn't it strange how many things authors find they have in common, when they gather in groups? And how well they work together, when the chips are down?

I've seen it before, of course. The most common one seems to be former military and former military dependents (spouses and/or kids specifically). Granted, the US military isn't a small thing, but I'm talking military from all over the world, and the military establishment isn't (percentage-wise) comparable in the general populace as it seems to be in writing communities. Do we write, because we need an outlet? Is there is just a higher percentage of creative personalities drawn to military life? Opposites attract or something like that? I can't say.

But, I can say I've found another common theme in writing circles...autism. I'd met authors with autistic kids before. The first was probably on FictionThatSells Yahoogroup (formerly called ChickLit). It was an interesting aside that so many of us had autistic kids on there. I learned that Sherrilyn Kenyon was heavily invested in autism causes. That was cool, and I made note of it.

Then Alessia Brio and company over at the Coming Together group proposed COMING TOGETHER: AGAINST THE ODDS, to benefit Autism Speaks. Like all the COMING TOGETHER anthologies, the author, artist and editor royalties are donated to the cause in question. They usually also have a name author (like Barry Eisler or LA Banks) doing the foreword (a sign of how much recognition CT has in writing circles).

So, the call went out...and just closed yesterday. Coming Together editions usually pull in between four times and five times
the submissions they need. The lowest turn-out recorded--for an CT anthology, where the authors know they will see no royalties for their work--was still more than double the amount needed, and that issue was limited by a strict theme.

When the call went out, I was FLOORED by the number of authors who came out of the woodwork and stated that they had autistic children, spouses...or were autistic themselves, that being the least common I've seen. I've worked with autistic children (and have two personally), and I know it's not an uncommon affliction, but I never realized how many creative types were directly affected by autism. Just goes to show you...it is a small world.

Thankfully for causes like the ones Coming Together aids, another thing creative types have in common (by and large) is the willingness to give selflessly to efforts that benefit the world at large. The opportunities are everywhere, and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the charity efforts I've been a part of. Whether you're judging a children's writing contest like New Voices or offering up donations to be auctioned to benefit Jo Leigh (organized by Alison Kent) or even donating a piece of writing to benefit Coming Together's many charity efforts or SimeCenter's charities, it's a feel-good and relatively painless route to doing something good.

Brenna Lyons
Coming Together Author/New Voices Judge/SimeCenter Contributor