Sunday, May 30, 2010

He said - She said

My post today is about dialogue tags. You know the thing, she said, he said, she questioned, he replied.  The general criticism I've heard about these, is that their use pulls the reader out of the story. I've read that said is better than other words like replied, because the eye passes over it, although as a reader I don't really agree.
For me, good writing really flows well without tags at all. But it can be difficult to do.
Approach one: lines of dialog, without tags. Works for a while, but if used to excess, it can be difficult to keep track of who is speaking. Also, it doesn't reveal much of the pov characters feelings, or the other characters feelings. While you're living in the head of a character, you can't reveal what another character is feeling in any other way than their words and body language.
Approach two: Use action tags to show the characters action instead of a dialogue tag.
At this stage, I would be going 'huh?' so time for an example. This one is from one of my favourite Modern Heat writers, Robyn Grady. An excerpt from 'Naughty nights in the millionaire's mansion' (Thank you, Robyn!)

It's written in the heroine's POV. Vanessa. The red text is me.

Her gaze flicked to his left hand - large, tanned but no gold ring. Still, not all those who were taken wore bands. As she'd found out. (so from this we see she's interested, and has had a previous bad experience)
'Perhaps your wife could help.'
'I'm not married.'
'Girlfriend?' (see? lovely use of no dialogue tags. Just a ? at the end to indicate a question)
She was curious - only for the dog's sake. A workaholic man-god descended from warriors wouldn't be interested in an ordinary girl working her way up the ladder...lately one rung up, three rungs back. (lovely bit of information reveal, giving us Vanessa's internal thoughts, in her very distinctive pov voice)
'My housekeeper comes in once a week.'
She cut him a wry grin. (There you go, an action tag instead of a dialogue tag) Not the same.
She had a thought. (much better than sticking, she thought at the end) 'If a dog's too much responsibility and a fish maybe isn't enough, perhaps a -"
"Don't say cat." His chin and its deep cleft came down. "I don't do cats." (and we know how he feels because of the descriptive tag stating his body's response. No need for he said, or he warned, or any of those other dialog tags.)

Something to think about? Many thanks to Robyn for giving me the perfect example!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fantastic source for all things writing

I'm just doing a quick post today, because ISBW (I should be writing - thought I'd make up my own four letter abbreviation). This is about a fantastic blog that I've been living on since I learned about it during my great, just finished workshop with Shirley Jump. So, for all writers, romance and otherwise, I'd heartily recommend heading over to Les Edgerton's blog. Its full of insights into conflict, outlining, and all things writing related, with a ton of information to go back through and apply to your work. All written in a very readable, often humerous way. I for one, am loving it. And eagerly awaiting my next delivery from Amazon. I'm awaiting one of Les's books, with the inspiring title : Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers on Page One and Never Lets Them Go  so I can read Les's wisdom in bed too!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Love and Chocolate Welcomes my first guest ever - Milaya Marks!

Today, Milaya's book, Spanish Heat, is released by Wild Rose Press under the Wilder Rose imprint. I'm very honoured to Have Milaya here, in person, to tell us about how to find Electronic Markets for Romances. Have a look at her cover. Isn't it great? I think he looks like Tom Cruises younger, better looking brother!

Erotic romance author Milaya Marks’ Spanish Heat is now available from The Wilder Rose Press. Visit Milaya online at or follow her on Twitter at @MilayaMarks.

Purchase Spanish Heat from Wild Rose or DigiBooksCafe.
Now, enough from me, and over to Milaya.

Finding Electronic Markets for Romances
by Milaya Marks.

Finding electronic markets for romances is easy if you know where to look. A quick browse around websites, blogs, ezines, forums, loops and more all offer romance authors the chance to learn more about potential online homes for their writing.

Simple Google searches can be a great way to find markets for romances. Searching “romance epublisher”, “romance publisher”, “romance ebooks” and “romance anthologies” can all yield results. Setting up Google alerts for these same phrases will bring new information to your email inbox daily without you having to do any extra work.

Many existing organisations also keep lists of publishers - for good or bad. The Romance Writers of America (, the Romantic Novelists Association ( and Romance Writers of Australia ( might all be able to offer members more information about electronic markets.

Websites like Romantic Times ( and blogs like Dear Author ( can also be useful research tools if you look at who publishes the ebooks which are reviewed. Similarly, electronic book services like eBooks (, Books On Board ( and All Romance EBooks ( can be research goldmines as they sell ebooks from a variety of publishers.

Finally, don’t forget general writing sites like WOW! Women on Writing (, Inkwell Writers ( and Funds for Writers ( These sites all offer free email newsletters detailing markets and competitions, some for all writers and some specifically for romance writers.

Finding electronic markets for romance isn’t hard, but it may take a bit of Web browsing. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Setting as character

I've been thinking about setting, this week. In Romance, setting is vital. Mills and Boon talk about setting in their guidelines for the various lines. The Modern Heat guidelines, for example state the books should be set within a chic, glamorous, and usually urban setting. And the Modern guidelines state that: Readers are whisked away to exclusive jet-set locations to experience smouldering intensity and red-hot desire.
Other lines are not quite as specific, but it is worth noting if writing either a Modern or a Modern Heat that this is what the editors are looking for. The location is just as much part of the story as the characters, and they state that clearly.
But what I'm writing about today is using setting as character. Once you have your ideal location picked, each scene can reveal something new, something that brings the story to life. Breathe atmosphere into the scene, and use the setting to reveal something new, that the story hasn't touched on.
Okay, an example. Sherlock Holmes. The wonderfully atmospheric backdrop of foggy London brings a darkness, a lurking menace. As does Hogwarts in Harry Potter, the weather is often stormy and the sky dark, especially in the scenes where the characters are in trouble. It foreshadows the drama to come. Also in scenes the setting can be used to great dramatic effect when it contrasts with the action. Think of a beautiful summer day, and the shock of a dead body suddenly come upon. Or a heroine in love, in the bright sunshine of a garden, and the effect suddenly coming across her lover with another might wreak.
Hmm. Back to writing!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Minxy Magic

Last year, Mills and Boon ran a fantastic competition for all Mills and Boon wannabe authors. The challenge was to write the first chapter of a Modern or Modern Heat Romance. Over 400 entered, and there were 2 winners, and 2 runners up. There were great forums where writers egged each other on, and a spirit of camaraderie which was, frankly, inspiring. Lots of my blogging friends joined me in this journey. When the winners and runners-up were announced and I wasn't one of them one of the things I missed most was the companionship with like minded writers. Eight of us banded together and started an online critique group - The Minxes of Romance. We work together, toss ideas around, and look at each others work. Its the black cloud's silver lining!
Now the Minxeshave started their own group blogsite - Minxes of Romance, which is going live on Monday! Do pop in and have a look. We'll have a Minx on Monday slot, Author Spotlights on Wednesday (and we've got some lovely authors popping by to tell us about themselves and their latest releases) and an Anything Friday - for anything we like, such as Movie Reviews, Book Reviews and Interesting News.
Here at Love and Chocolate, I've a guest blogger on the 17th - newly published author Milaya Marks will be visiting to tell us all about e-markets to sell your work.
Have a good weekend, everyone!