Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ask the Editors

Hey all, just a reminder that we do an occasional "The Editors Answer" blog in response to questions sent to us. Anything at all you want to ask about writing, submissions, editing, publishing... Just remember that we really aren't experienced in areas like non-fiction or children's books, so although we can give generic advice, we can't provide specific information in some genres.

So send your questions to anytime.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Title It Contest!

In any genre, you can find a plethora of very similar--or even identical--titles. Just try searching on Amazon by some of the more common words, and see how many books you find with the same title. There are just certain words that epitomize a genre. And as we all know, titles cannot be copyrighted, therefore you can't claim someone is copying from you or stop them from using the same title. Otherwise, we'd likely run out of book titles. (You can, however, trademark a title as a "brand" under certain circumstances. You see this with some series names.)'s a list of very common title words for romances (including erotic romances). There will be kudos and prizes to those who create the most imaginative and unique book title from this list. Rules:
~ Title can be any length.
~ You may use only the words on this list and connector or little words (a, and, the, this, of, or, for, with, her, him...).
~ You may use the singular or plural noun form, possessives, or any tense of a verb.

Okay, post your entries in Comments by Friday, September 25! Oh, yeah, extra points for an appropriately creative author pen name along with the title.

Magic (or Magick)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Contest Winners! Worst First Line

Okay, the winners of our Worst First Line contest!


CKHB for:
Lacey was once again thinking of Chad and their recent breakup; she had thought they were meant to be together forever, like strawberries and champagne,but it turned out that they had been more like peanut butter and jelly, which went together beautifully in a sandwich, but were never meant to be together too close for too long, like those jars at the grocery that had the peanut butter and jelly together in the same jar with the striped pattern, which seems like a good idea in theory -- everything you want in one place, after all -- but then when you actually see teh product in real life it just looks ridiculous and unpalatable on the shelf, and you don't even want to think about what it would look like when spread onto the bread...yes, she decided, moving in together had been the thing that killed the relationship.

Extra points for making that all one sentence!


Bill Greer for:

Detective Paul Tightshirt studied the tangled bodies and figured the first guy was already dead and floating naked down the Cuyahoga River when the second guy committed suicide by jumping off the bridge into the river, landing on top of the first guy, and their immoral coupling was a million-in-one shot.

Notice the suck-up? Bill, are you a local guy? Not many people know the Cuyahoga River. (Well, except for those decades-old photos of it being on fire.)


Sandy Campbell for:

It was a dark and stormy night, not your usual kind of stormy but that gloppy kind of precipitation they get on Pselit Prime, not really wet but only kind of wet and oozy when it got on your skin like that rash you get sometimes in the warm, moist crevices of your body . . . that said, Ace Space Pilot Phil Rooterrocket walked into his favorite Intergalactic whore house with a swagger that made tongues hang out and that was just the aliens, anyway, Phil was just there to check out the action and hook up with his favorite space mechanic, Chic Heir Armpit who had been trying for years to hide the secret baby she'd conceived while on a long space haul with three or four (her memory was a little fuzzy at that point) really hot guys from the planet Goober, only the little bundle of joy just wouldn't stay hidden inside the voluminous, luxurious velvet nap of her oversized cape ever since he'd turned twenty.

OMG, this is one sentence even longer than the romance winner!

Special Award:

To Barbara Elsborg, for all three of her entries! Fantastic, especially the SciFi one.

Mary hadn’t realized when she grabbed the zombie by his penis that it would come off in her hand, but not in a good way.

If Jack saw another pink-spotted thong, he’d have to put it on no matter what the policeman thought.

Sci fi:
Long ago, on the planet of Efterhjyern, there lived a woman called Prhhtukjsellg who had two children, Neelhuhwhel and Bob who were determined to find the golden dildo before the monks of Wkkuherkjk-t realized what they had in their hands and sold it to the Hffierhbjhtts from planet Mkkeuuyel.

Okay, winners, you get a free e-book of your choice from Ellora's Cave ( or Cerridwen Press ( Email your choice plus the format you need it in to, and she'll send you the file.

Friday, September 11, 2009

BBW 2009

by Raelene Gorlinsky

No, not big, beautiful woman, although that's what the acronymn normally means to me. (Being one myself.)

Banned Book Week is September 26 to October 3, 2009.

"Banned Books Week (BBW): Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where the freedom to express oneself and the freedom to choose what opinions and viewpoints to consume are both met."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Editors Answer: Submissions Response Time

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I am an aspiring writer who pitched at a conference and was asked to send in a synopsis and partial. Well, I pitched to one editor of a major publishing house and then caught another in the hall who liked me and agreed to have me send the same to her. This was in June and I sent a professional query letter, two page synopsis and first three chapters to both by the end of the week. One month later I emailed and said that I was looking forward to any comments that they might have.

Now here it is, September, and I have not heard from either. My question is this - do I keep waiting, email again or pull the plug? I actually would like to revise the book one more time but am afraid to touch it until I hear back. It seems like a bad idea to send them new chapters because I decided to expand the story a bit. I want to be professional and build a career so doing this right is very important to me.

Start by checking the publisher's website to see what this editor or publisher says is their typical response time, and what they say about checking back with them. I know you are anxious, but for many publishers, especially if you are talking about a big NY traditional pub, three months is not a long time for response to a partial, even if requested.

Generally, sending a polite email asking about status is perfectly acceptable. Make it short. Give your name and book title and summarize the background - where you met the editor, that s/he requested the partial, and when you sent it.

What you should be doing while waiting to hear back is writing your next book. If the editors you submitted this first one to end up rejecting it, or never respond to you, then you can consider revising it and sending it elsewhere. But for now, get moving on another book!

Contest Reminder: Worst First Line

Entry deadline is Friday, Sept. 11. We'll announce the winner next week. Put your "oh my god, I didn't know I could think up something that awful!" imagination to work!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Journey's End

by Raelene Gorlinsky

From Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz:

She turned another page. "I already know how it ends."

"You read the ending first?"

"I always read the ending before I commit to the whole book."

He looked at her, baffled. "If you know how it ends, why read the book?"

"I don't read for the ending. I read for the story. [...] Life is too short to waste time on books that end badly."

Ms. Krentz's character and I are completely in sync. Yes, I admit it, I am one of those people who read the ending first. Well, I don't read it first. I generally read a chapter or two at the start in order to find out what the story's about and who the main characters are, then I read the ending, then I read the rest of the story. People who don't do this find it appalling and inexplicable. "But you're ruining the story! There's no suspense left. Why bother to even read the book if you already know how it ends?"

It's the journey--the story--that makes the destination worthwhile, all the experiences and excitement of the trip. But first you need to want to get to that destination. The most lovely drive in the country is no fun if you know you're on the way to the dentist.

Face it, for most fiction genres we already know basically how the book will end. The bad guys will get their comeuppance, the lovers will have their happily-ever-after, the mystery will be solved. So reading the ending first isn't totally cheating, it's just reassuring oneself that the destination is good and is worth the time spent on the trip there.

So besides my musing on the subject (and interest in hearing how many others read the ending first), what's the point of this blog post? Well, we harp a lot on how important the first line or paragraph is to grab the reader. And many writing classes talk about how to fix your "sagging middle". But don't forget the importance of a satisfying ending that carries the excitement and emotion and action to the last word of the book. If the last chapter is slow or confusing or just drags on too long after the climax, end-first readers like me aren't going to bother taking the journey of your story.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tomes of Terms

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I'm a sucker for word books. Books that provide the etymology of words or phrases, that list unusual words or funny words. So of course I could not pass up the slim paperback on the sale table at the bookstore this week: 100 Words Every Word Lover Should Know, from the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries.

It's got words that are in not-really-rare use, but are pretty uncommon for most people. The types of words you may see more frequently in non-fiction writing (whether books or news articles or whatever), less frequently in fiction, and rarely hear spoken. Hey, I figure that's because even if we can spell them, we can't pronounce them.

My favorites?

Try incorporating these into your normal conversations.

Oh, you want to know what they mean? Okay, mix and match - here are the definitions, you figure out which word each goes to.

  • a soft rustling or whispering sound
  • the ability to "speak in tongues", such as in a trance, religious ecstasy or schizophrenia
  • alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth
  • nonchalant, blithely unconcerned
  • given to the use of long words; having many syllables
  • a person who creates crossword puzzles, or an enthusiast of word games
  • the characteristic spirit of a time period or generation
  • idle chatter, especially if intended to charm or beguile
  • an extra or unexpected gift or benefit
  • an environment or setting
  • a sudden or unexpected change of fortune
What are your favorite unusual but fun words?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Geography, Anyone?

by Helen Woodall

With the advent of Google Maps I am astounded how many books still have glaring mistakes of geography.

A few years ago there was the famous case of a book that won a bunch of awards. In it, the heroine and her child escaped across the border through a mountain pass – between two countries that do not share a border. Nowhere do these two countries meet!

I am not sure how the author, the editor and the people who judged the awards all managed to miss this, but I can assure you the readers swooped on it. And yes, the awards were withdrawn.

Not all examples of geographical errors are as dramatic as this one, but readers do notice mistakes. And these days of instant maps and atlases on the internet there is absolutely no excuse. Besides Google, there is always:
and dozens more that can answer your every query from the temperature in Cairns, Australia, in the middle of winter (20-30C = 68-86F) to how much rain falls on the plain in Spain. (

These sites have all sorts of fascinating weather details:

There are even historical sites that can tell you whether or not your hero and heroine would have been snowbound in London in 1709. (Yes they would have been. It was a very cold year.)

And before your heroine flees to another country, please check to see whether or not she needs a visa or inoculations or an international driver’s license. It would be a real plot destroyer if she got barred at the border or deported as an illegal alien or caught Dengue Fever instead of kissing the hero on the last page.

So, what are the worst/funniest geographical errors you have seen in a novel?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wanted: Your Worst First Lines

In an attempt to ward off the end-of-summer blahs, we here at Redlines and Deadlines are hosting our first-ever worst first line contest!

We've had a best and worst last line contest, and we've had a best first line contest, but we figured that sometimes coming up with horrible lines is more entertaining than coming up with great ones.

There are three categories: Mystery, Romance, and SciFi/Fantasy.

To participate, leave a comment with the absolute worst first line that you can create. Be sure to indicate which category. Original sentences only, please, nothing from someone's published book.

Contest will close on September 11. The winner in each category will receive a free Ellora's Cave or Cerridwen Press e-book of their choice.

We're Baaaack!

We took a short hiatus (um, like the month of August) to catch up on real work, rather than the fun stuff like this blog. But we're back now, bringing you more wit and wisdom from the all-seeing editorial eyes at Ellora's Cave. (The I-love-it/I-hate-it alliteration debate can practically bring people to blows in our office.)

So to get everyone's minds working again, we'll start off with a fun contest. See next post.