Thursday, February 7, 2013

Secret Valentine

by Tamara Shaffer from the February 11, 2013 issue

Tagline: Mary hadn't opened her heart to anyone for a long time...and then she met Todd. But what happened next?

In a Nutshell: Mary and Todd work at the same department store. Mary likes Todd. Todd likes Mary. Although neither is particularly brave, they end up giving each other secret valentines.

Observations: I had a couple of glitches that pulled me out of the story. First, is it just me, or does this first sentence read awkwardly?

Mary was helping a customer when Todd walked past the checkout at the store where she worked as a cashier, headed for the greeting cards display.

Yowsa. That last phrase is so kooky, but I think it's saying that the cashier is heading for the greeting card display...

The other hiccup was here:

That's when Mary had an idea. Maybe she could distract him from this other person who occupied his thoughts. I mean, it's not like Todd is actually dating someone else, she reasoned.

Right where it says, "I mean," it felt, not like the characters thoughts, but more like the narrator's intrusion, until I got to "she reasoned," and then I realized it was Mary thinking. I'm not sure why they didn't just use italics, but maybe they wanted to reserve that for the text of the Valentine cards...

Anyway, I was really liking this story. I noted the point of view change, but wasn't bothered too much. I was all geared up for the reveal when she saw the rose and the card and it was really sweet. But...when Todd swooped in and touched his lips to her ear, I went, "Whaaat?" To me, that was too pushy of him. He went on to hug her, too, but by then I was still a little bit in shock. He had been too shy to even approach her, and then bam, suddenly he feels free enough to ambush kiss her on the ear. This didn't ring true for me, unfortunately.

Still, usual disclaimer, Johnene bought it and WW published it. All this is just my opinion. :)

Photo by XPeria2Day

73 comments:

Mary Jo said...

No, Kate, it is not just you. If, indeed, Tamara did come up with that awkward first sentence, any editor could have fixed it easily:
Mary was checking out a customer at her cashier counter when Todd walked by on his way to the greeting card display.

How hard is that? And the unnecessary switch in POV in these tiny WW romances always makes me grind my teeth. Again, where the heck was the editor?

Actually, it is hard to judge the Woman's World romances because I don't know who wrote what. Johnene's editing of your Chinese horoscope story was spot on, but if she did the same to this one, she was out to lunch. You are so right when you say "Whaaat?"

Nevertheless, I congratulate Tamara on creating a sweet story. I think we all love writing these little bits; otherwise, we wouldn't be trying so hard.

Tamara said...

OK, I am chomping at the bit. Excuse my length here. Everything you found questionable was the editor, and I have been frothing at the mouth since I saw her version.

My first sentence reads: "Mary was helping a customer when she noticed Todd walk past her checkout counter where she worked as a cashier." I thought that sentence was a little long, but I needed to compress a lot of info because of the word count. But the editor made it even longer and made it read as though the cashier was headed for the greeting card display!

Mary's idea -- I wrote: "That's when Mary had an idea. Pehaps she could distract him from this other person who occupied his thoughts. On her break, she perused the card counter looking for the perfect words to convey how she felt--[italics here] not too forward or syrupy--something playful[end italics], she thought, as she noticed a card with a heart and two adorable kittens on the front, wearing big glasses. The cover read: 'Just want to make you see,' and inside: 'you'd be a purr-fect Valentine for me.'"

When Todd asked her advice about the roses, she told him definitely a lavendar rose (I did research on this), because "It's a sample of enchantment and love at first sight." Don't know why that had to be removed.

And the ending: oh, my gawd, I was appalled. How would this man, who is shy anyway, when they haven't even been on their first date and they are at her workplace -- touch her or go anywhere near her ear? Here is how I ended it, just after she returns from leaving the card for Todd and sees his card on her desk:

"'Happy Valentine's Day,'" came a familiar voice behind her. She turned to see one handsome electronic store manager, smiling warmly and holding the card she had just left for him. 'Now that our secrets are out in the open, do you think we could go to dinner this evening?' he asked.

'I would like that,' she answered happily.

'Do you have a restaurant in mind?' he asked.

'You decide,' she said, holding the rose next to her heart, 'I love surprises.'"

There were other changes -- I thought unnecessary, but these were the worst.

This is why I complain about editors.

Mary Jo said...

Tamara, my condolences. Maybe you should write to the EIC and ask that a disclaimer be published. I know it is very hard to have your name attached to something you didn't even write.

There ARE good editors. Ellen Edwards, just starting out, edited my little romance book and she went on to be highly acclaimed in her field. Anyone who belongs to RWA probably knows of her.

Tamara said...

I'm afraid Johnene would be offended and not ever publish my stories again, and they are a needed source of income and they're fun. I realize they're not great literature, but I do work hard on them and if I write well I want my name on something that is well written. I tend to write succinctly (almost to a fault), and I always stay below the word count, so she'll have less to do. I just don't know what she could be thinking sometimes.

Deb Noone said...

Tamara - it was a very sweet story. I tend to read the story for the idea, rather than content, since I do know things get edited. (As a writer, I do go back through on a second reading and tear it apart as reasearch, just so I can learn). The one story I published had my favorite few sentences removed - which added humor and showed why the hero could finally act on his crush. It didn't change the story, but made me sad it was removed. When you work hard to add something that distinguishes the story, like your lavendar rose (which I love!) it makes a big difference.

But know in your heart you did a great job and SOLD the story. It was nice to see your original pieces. Keep on writing and I'll keep on reading!

Deb

Betsi said...

Tamara, I noticed the same things the others pointed out -- the first sentence, in particular, had me scratching my head! But we're writers and WOULD notice these things, the general readers would not. I'm sure most women loved this story (although, does ANYONE want to be kissed on the ear by a relative stranger?). I liked the lavender rose idea, but WW likes the tried and true. Red roses for Valentine's Day.

I'm kind of dreading the appearance of my story in 4 weeks, wondering if I'll even recognize it!

Betsi

Tamara said...

Thanks, everyone. Actually, a couple of my friends who read the story were perplexed by the ending, but, you're right, Betsi, many who read and don't write don't scrutinize as much. Well, I've sent in two more romances -- one I think has a snowball's chance and one I think they'll like (and one mystery -- most of my mysteries are quickly melting snowballs:)). Congratulations on your upcoming story, Betsi. I hope it's intact.

Betsi said...

Tamara, my mysteries all seem to have a snowball's chance too -- I sold the first one I submitted, but they've all flown back to me since then. I had one in progress, and saw on our Yahoo WW group that John Floyd just sold one with the same name. Since the whole story was based on the title . . . well, at least it saves me from making a useless submission!

Pat said...

Tamara, I loved your story and until Kate pointed these things out, I didn't notice them. I read the story as a reader, not a writer.

Betsi, send your story in anyway. They reuse titles all the time and Johnene is always desperate for mysteries. Remember, even if you send it now and they buy it, it will be a couple of months before they publish it. Just my opinion.

Tamara said...

Thanks, Pat. And Betsi, I understand about the title being key sometimes. I have had other pubs not get that; for some reason -- probably "There's no reason for it, it's just our policy" -- they automatically change titles. Anyway, I hope you submit it anyway. Even if they change the title, you'll get 500 bucks.

Betsi said...

You're probably right, I should finish and submit the story. After all, they've used the title "Recipe for Love" three times just since Kate's been writing her blog! And we don't know yet if they're even going to keep John's title. AND I don't have a snowball's chance of selling it anyway. ;-)

Tamara said...

Pat, did I read correctly that Johnene is desperate for mysteries? What makes you say that? (She's not desperate enough to publish mine -- that should tell me something. :))

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Johnene turns down the mysteries because she can't see a way to rewrite them? Well, it just seems to be a criterion for acceptance of a story. So many writers are telling us they have been completely changed. Does she honestly think she knows better than the author?

Jody E. Lebel said...

I haven't been able to get out to buy this week's WW....snowed in up here in Mass. But I'll be sure to put my two cents in when I get it. So far, I don't like the sound of the changes that were made. Especially the hug and kiss on the ear. Double whaaaat?

Betsi said...

Tamara, when I sold my one and only mystery, J wrote on it "I'm critically short of mini mysteries, so if you have anymore great ideas, send 'em in!" That was in 2010, but members of the Yahoo group have mentioned it more recently. Apparently the six stories I sent her after that were not so great!

Betsi said...

BTW -- this is for Anonymous, whoever you are -- except for cutting a word here and there, my mystery was printed almost word for word. I think they receive far fewer mysteries. The format of solve-it-yourself makes them very difficult to write.

Tamara said...

This inspires me to attempt more mysteries. I love creating those devious characters. [If only Johnene loved publishing them.:)]That's interesting that she didn't do a slasher job on your mystery, Betsi. That's funny that they used that "recipe" title three times.

Carolyn Martin said...

Have been away from this site for several weeks, but added a comment to Kate's Chinese New Year story a few minutes ago. Should have put it here. Very germane to what many of you have said re Johnene's editing style.

Mary Jo said...

Last night I was reading on the web an article by John Floyd. He has been amazingly successful with his Woman's World mysteries. Among his advice and comments, he stated that he found Johnene completely professional and very easy to work with.

I wish Johnene would write an article explaining her editing philosophy and what she finds appealing about a story in the first place. My only tiny clue was the time she wrote on a rejection, "I like to do my own editing." That was when I sent her a shortened version along with the original story.

Carolyn, I read your comments. I don't know if the WW editors are even considering retirement. I have known editors who work well into their 70's and beyond. Even so, if readers want to see the fiction continued, I don't think the publishers will discontinue it. There are plenty of editors out there to fill anyone's shoes.

Pat said...

Adele Polomski, Elaine Togneri, and Barbara Nuzzo are my critique partners and Johnene has written often on many rejections that she will look at anything else we have in mystery. She has rejected all of my submissions but mystery gets the most comments.

Jody E. Lebel said...

I finally got to my Feb 11th issue. I really liked the story.

The opening lines after the title weren't the sharpest, and they're supposed to be the hook. "Mary hadn't opened her heart to anyone for a long time...and then she met Todd. (here's the part I think is lacking) But what happened next?" But what happened next?

The next small problem (for me) was her talking about going with Kurt through high school. Then the next paragraph she talks again to Todd explaining how she went with Kurt through high school. I would have cut one of them. Words are too limited to have repeats.

There were several POV flip flops.

My last thought was she went and left the card on his desk in the back office. How many strangers do you know can walk into a store and proceed to their back office?

So, little things bugged me.

The 'kiss on the ear' turned out when I read it to be just that when he went to whisper to her that his lips touched her ear. I'm okay with that. And the hug I was hearing about in the comments above was a little squeeze to ask her to be his Valentine. I can also live with that.

Cute story. WW worthy. Nice job, Tamara.

Tamara said...

My version reads -- and just to clarify -- Todd was manager at the electronics store in the mall; he did not work in the same store as Mary: "At lunch time, Mary entered the electronic store and looked around for Todd. Just as she'd guessed, he was at lunch and away from his station. A coworker agreed to make sure he received the card when he returned."

The repeat of the information about dating Kurt in high school was also the editor's creation. In my version, the only thing she says to Todd is "I couldn't believe he was leaving for college and hadn't bought me a ring. I knew then that he wasn't interested in getting married."

In a word, this story was turned into a MESS.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Tamara, your version is concise and makes sense. It must be something in the water out there in Seattle. Even with the dumb changes, I still thought the story was very good.

Tamara said...

Thanks, Jody.

Chris said...

Unable to read the original story, but it sounds like some pretty unnecessary changes have been made. Well done, tho' on getting your story published, Tamara.

I'm having a crack at doing one of the solve it yourself crime stories and wonder if anyone knows the ranks of the police officers attending a murder scene. As working titles I've got a Lieutenant Green and younger policewoman I've called Officer Miller, but I'm not sure they are high ranking enough. I Googled American Police Ranks but it's not really made clear who does what. All suggestions welcome.

Tamara said...

Well, according to NYPD Blue and Law & Order :), detectives work the crime scene, and according to me being a victim myself, a crime lab crew.

Tamara said...

I forgot to mention, Chris, that there might be some uniforms there who were initiallly called to the scene.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, the 911 call would be responded to by uniform officers who would quickly radio the Homicide Unit. Detectives would respond. Detectives would call in crime scene. There may be a lientenant in charge of the detectives but for your story you will either need two detectives or a detective and a crime scene tech. Or a medical examiner, the one who pronounces the victim dead and removes the body. A lowly uniform police officer probably would not be investigating a murder unless it is a very small town and there is only one detective.

My day job brings me in contact with criminals and cops...all day long...lol.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, take a peek at my blog where I slice and dice the weekly WW mystery story. I also have some writing tips there.

http://wwmysterystory.blogspot.com/

Chris said...

Thanks, Tamara - sorry to hear you know this from first hand experience, though.

I've looked on the solve-it-yourself link on Jody's website and there are two stories analysed there, with mentions of a Sheriff, a Chief and a Deputy, so might use them instead. This is incredibly hard to write, though. So difficult to reveal much of a plot in 600 words and still leave 100 words for the reveal. It's an exercise in very tight writing that makes the romances, at 800 words, feel like luxury!

Chris said...

Thanks Jody - looks like our messages crossed in cyberspace. I'll be keeping your blog close by while I'm writing this story, so hopefully it'll make my first effort a little less appalling.

Tamara said...

I had a few incidents; I live near downtown Chicago. I had one pretty close call, in which a cop saved me and got hurt in the process. Years later, I attended his memorial service and spoke about the incident. I made up a romance based on it, where the victim falls for the cop's son. Unfortunately, the story "didn't work for Johnene". :)

Mary Jo said...

Jody, I have looked at your blog and think it is very informative. I know very little about communicating over the web. Does it mean I have to have one of those accounts in order to leave a comment? Kate's blog makes it very easy to send to her. I just do not understand how yours works since it seems none of your listing applies to me.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo... I use the same blogger.com that Kate uses. We just have different themes/backgrounds, etc. At the end of each week's story there is a white box with the word 'comments' on it just like at the end of each of Kate's postings. Click on the comments area (it has a yellow pencil near it) and it will take you to the comments section that you fill out just like this one. Looking forward to seeing you over there...

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, there are more mystery stories in the blog archive towards the bottom of the page. There are 6 more stories on there for you to study.

Jody

Chris said...

Thanks for letting me know about the earlier stories on your site, Jody. I've checked them all and am building up a useful picture of how to structure these whodunnits. Now for the difficult part... doing it myself.

Also read the opening instalment of your book there. Great intriguing beginning; mysterious email message from dead husband. Good hook. The review from 'Sean Connery' was equally intriguing, a whodunnit all of its own! Worked with Sean a few years ago on First Knight, when he played King Arthur. Still remember a pre-dawn shoot, standing in a field in Stratfield Saye watching him give the order for the launch of hundreds of flaming arrows into the night sky. Goosebump time.

Thanks again for the link, I'll be checking back often, although, like Mary Jo, I couldn't leave this comment there as I don't have any of the accounts mentioned (or am I missing something?). I find this way so much easier.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, I don't mind seeing your comments about mystery stories here if Kate doesn't mind. It is all WW related. But you could just use the WWWriters@yahool.com loop and post there. I didn't realize my blog had different identities than Kate's blog has. I went in on mine and added "anonymous". Anyone should be able to post without joining anything. (that is such a pain) Thanks for the heads up.

Glad you liked the book...and Sean's Book Hour endorsement of it..lol

These blogs are so helpful. I can't wait for Kate to post the romance story each week. She usually does it around Wednesdays...I get up in the morning and run over to the computer with my WW mag in hand.

Chris said...

I agree, I'm finding this exchange of views and ideas really useful.

When you do your analysis of the stories, Jody, I'm assuming that listing the red herrings, suspects, and so on, is simply for clarity on your website? When you submit a mini-mystery to WW, it's just the story and the reveal, totalling 700 words, isn't it? I'm using your method as a way of getting my story clear in my mind, but I imagine I don't need to list the clues, etc., when I send it? Sorry, that probably sounds really stupid, but I just want to know I've got it right.

Kate Willoughby said...

Wow! So many comments!

I don’t believe there’s anything technically wrong with changing POV’s inside a story. It’s just not done as often these days and so readers have been trained away from making that mental switch from one character to another without a line or chapter break.

I’m sorry to have upset you, Tamara and I’m sorry you’re unhappy with the changes made to your story. Being edited is part of the business that we writers have to accept. I have to admit that not every story I write is a perfect gem, and so I forgive Johnene for making a poor choice once in a while. Of course, it’s easy for me to say that when it wasn’t my story…

I don’t think a disclaimer is even remotely possible, nor would I think it wise to even ask for one.

Betsi makes a good point. Most readers won’t notice this stuff. It’s my (self-appointed) “job” to pick these things out.

I wish I could write the mysteries. I need to be more conniving.

Anonymous, I don’t know why she rejects mysteries. That’s not my area of expertise. However, I do think that, yes, in a way she does think she knows better. I think that that’s in essence the editor’s job description.

Mary Jo, I don’t think it’s possible to write an article about what makes stories appealing because each story will be different. When I analyze the stories each week, I might like one story because of the banter. In another it might be the surprise ending. The next week it will be the hero’s humor.

The reason I usually post on Wednesdays is because it’s my dedicated day off. LOL

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, yes, when you submit your mystery story it is just the story and the reveal in 700 words. The analysis I do each week just breaks it down so we can see how it was put together in the first place and see how the clues are fed in. Red herrings are good to throw the reader off, but you see they are not always used. It's just a matter of style. I do edit writer's mystery stories for a fee. Details are on my blog. I don't edit romances...that's Kate's forte. I like the bad boys...lol.

Mary Jo said...

Yes, Kate, the conversation really took off on this one. I come back here often just to see what everyone is saying.

The suggestion about asking for a disclaimer was just a bit of irony on my part. Of course, it would be unwise and also impossible.

If I read more mystery stories, I might have a better chance of writing one. As it is, I hit a blank wall even contemplating one. Jody, you really are sitting in the catbird seat!

Mary Jo said...

Oh, I do have one more comment on the editing process. Someone said they first read the WW fiction for the story and not for the details.I think this has to be true for most of their readers.

Of the two that I had published last year, I gave my sister in law copies of the magazine version and my original story. She read them and said seriously that she didn't notice much difference in the two versions. She really wondered what I was so upset about. So there you have it.

Tamara said...

You didn't upset me, Kate. I was actually glad to see that you saw what I saw. And this blog gives me a place to voice my angst -- forever :) -- well, not forever. I do have a question, though. What do you mean by the change in the POV? I didn't quite undertand that.

Chris said...

Thanks for clarifying the submission of mini-mysteries, Jody. Breaking the stories down into their component parts is a good way of making sure all the bases are covered. I've got a red herring (well, more a pink tiddler really), in mine but won't feel it's necessary for every story. I exchange work for feedback with several Writers' Circle friends, so I'll get their thoughts before it goes off.

I didn't get to read your story in the magazine, Tamara, so I'm not sure what Kate was referring to about the POV change, but for what it's worth here's my two cents. When a short story goes from one character's point of view to another's, even briefly, it risks causing that absolute no-no, confusion. Skipping from Jane to John Doe's perspective within the same section of a story means the reader loses their 'connection', their empathy, with your lead character. Suddenly, Jane's feelings are no longer the ones we identify with and we're having to go with John's instead. If we must have the other character's viewpoint to move the story on, then use a scene change and open the paragraph with the second character taking centre stage, so we're clear who it is we are 'with' for this part.

James Patterson takes things a step further and goes from first person (usually the killer) to third and back again. When I first read one of his books I was screaming in my head, no, this isn't right! Now, I just sit back and enjoy the ride. After all, he isn't the world's best selling author for nothing. It's easier when you are a novelist, with 100,000 words at your disposal, anyway. In less than 800, I don't think mixing first and third would work.

Tamara said...

I see, possibly those who commented were referring to the way I revealed Todd's thoughts about Mary and then her thoughts about him. I actually couldn't have done this story without the criss-cross.

Kate Willoughby said...

POV switch for me was when Mary was talking about Kurt. Up until then I was in her POV then it changes to Todd's when he thinks that Kurt was a fool.

But like I said, I didn't really mind the switch.

Mary Jo said...

Chris did a very good job of describing the impact of POV switches. A novel can be structured for this style and provide great story telling. In an 800 (really closer to 700) word story, it is the sign of the amateur to be bouncing around in one head and then another. Tamara, you said you couldn't have told the story without revealing Todd's thoughts. I am here to tell you, yes, you could. You are the professional and it is up to you to reveal a character in a way that is consistent with good story telling. Confusing your reader will simply stop the story in its tracks. Hey, where did the protagonist go? Oh, there she is, back again, I guess. No, here we are back with this other person. Is this a story or a tennis match? I am sure you get the picture.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Tamara, one way to avoid head-hopping (POV shifts) is to have Todd say what he's thinking. When she tells him she dated Kurt for 3 years...then he met someone else, Todd says, "I wonder now if Kurt realizes what he gave up." When she blushes, he continues,"You're so friendly with the customers. And so pretty." Have her pat her auburn curls or something. That's pretty basic and fast (if you sat down you could come up with better) but you catch my drift on how you can turn the POV problem around and get in the needed info. LIke Kate said it's not a deal breaker for Johnene, but when you go to writer longer, novel length, and submit to an agent or editor, they will point it out immediately. It could result in a fast rejection letter at the most. At the least they will ask you to revise and resubmit.

Betsi said...

I worked with a published writer to get college credit for writing my first novel (which I ended up stashing in my filing cabinet). Sticking to one POV throughout a scene was the first thing he hammered into my head. You should be able to change all the pronouns to first person and have it still make sense.

Mary Jo said...

Right on, Jody. Tamara, and any others, you just received a gift.

Tamara said...

Yes, thank you everyone.

Kate Willoughby said...

I respectfully disagree. There is nothing wrong with changing POVs mid-scene if you do it correctly. Head-hopping is when you do it to excess. Nora Roberts and many other mainstream romance authors do it. :)

Tamara said...

I was happy to learn about the POV issue; I was actually not aware of it. But, I went back and read the story (my original version), and I think I would not write it differently. It's in third person, and I used italics to show the reader what each person was thinking about the other. I think to turn that into dialogue by the man would have belied his shyness.

reevessarah40 said...

Question for Kate: Do you freelanc e for other markets or do you just focus on WW fiction and the LiquidSilver stuff?

Question for Tamara: First of all I loved Secret Valentine, it was very sweet. It made me smile. You mention here that you are afraid Johnene would be offended if you asked for a disclaimer and maybe never publish you again, but aren't you worried she might see this blog and be equally offended? Also wondering if you freelance elsewhere? I'm looking for secular short fiction markets like WW but not limited to that. I do a lot of work for religious periodicals, but truth is secular mags pay more :o)

Chris said...

I've just discovered that my understanding of secular has been completely wrong! I always thought it meant allied to a religion, so I was surprised when I checked to see that it means the opposite.

What sort of mags are you looking for, Sarah? Here in the UK we have a few titles that take short fiction (Woman's Weekly, People's Friend, Weekly News), and I also submit stuff to Australia, India and S. Africa. What sort of stories do you write?

reevessarah40 said...

My contemporary fiction is usually relationship focused, complicated relationships (family or romantic) involving lots of self sacrifice.I write clean fiction, no profanity, nothing explicit, anti-Christian or anti-family. I like stories about people doing what's right at their own expense. Non-fiction: Christian devotionals and bible studies, parenting and homeschooling.

Chris said...

If you have experience of homeschooling, Sarah, have you submitted work to The Old Schoolhouse magazine? Good team of people and a quality mag.

For fiction of the sort you describe, there's Fast Fiction and That's Life in Australia (Pacific Magazines), and You Magazine in S. Africa (1,500 words max). In addition to the mags I mentioned earlier, there's Fiction Feast (Bauer) and Yours here in the UK. In India I submit to New Woman - romances and light fiction up to 2,000 words. The money there is quite low but I work on the principle that when the competition is so stiff to get work into the big titles, it makes sense to try the smaller payers too.

In America, I submit to Catholic Forester and Mature Years (both religious but not requiring it in their fiction). I think you should be able to locate all the guidelines online.

You might also want to check out the womag website (short for Women's Magazines), where you'll find a reasonable list of markets. womagwriter.blogspot.com/

Tamara said...

reevesarah, yes, I do worry that Johnene, or Patty Gaddis for tht matter, might look at this and be offended, but I do see a big difference between discussing the editing process with other writers and complaining to the editors directly. I did complain to Johnene once a long time ago, and she didn't respond. I was worried, and I waited two or three years before I submitted another story. I won't do that again unless she asks for my opinion (which is not likely). Funny, she'd actually asked me that time whether I'd like to see her editorial changes (I was so surprised), and I said no, that's all right. I should have taken her up on it, because that was the one in which she gave the wrong name to one of my characters. As for my freelancing, I have three stories I've been sending out -- starting with The New Yorker and working my way down through any literary journals that pay. I've been published in two literary journals, some Chicago newspapers, and I've had book reviews published in Chicago Life, which is a local small magazine inserted in the New York Times once a month. They pay in dinner tickets for any reviews they publish on their back page, so it doesn't make sense to send them in unless you're in Chicago. I've sent queries and clips to the big magazines, and sometimes they don't even bother to respond. I published a short book about a 1957 Chicago unsolved murder. What does Mature Years feature?

Kate Willoughby said...

reevesarah40, I'm also published by Ellora's Cave. :)

Tamara, do you live in Chicago? The book I'm writing now, there are some scenes that occur there, plus one scene at Water Tower Place that I had to completely delete. LOL

Tamara said...

Oh, no, what happened to your Water Tower Place scene? I do live in Chicago, can see the Sears Tower from my window (now the Willis Tower, of course).

Kate Willoughby said...

I had to change the setting because the hero had to buy the engagement ring before going to Chicago.

Jody E. Lebel said...

RE: Nora Roberts head hopping. When you're a famous writer and you make a LOT of money for your publishing house you can do just about anything you want and the readers are still going to buy your book. Nora could even get away with killing a dog. BUT as a new author trying to break in, there is a standard that editors and agents expect you to adhere to. To not do so in the beginning of your career sends a message to them that you don't really know what you're doing and you're not a professional (told to me by my agent). You wouldn't send in a ms with single spacing, right? Nora could. Smaller presses are more lax, but if you're shooting for the Big 6, don't fool around. Follow the guidelines. When you're a bigshot author, then you can play.

Mary Jo said...

Nora's first little romance books were gorgeous and absolutely straight arrow as far as following the accepted writing "rules". It has been years since I last read her, so I don't know how she handles the writing now. I believe that switching POV in these small WW stories and even in short romance books is sloppy writing. Why Johnene allows it, I will never know.

My advice to beginning writers: pay attention to what Jody has said on the subject.

Chris said...

Tamara - Mature Years is a mag for older readers. It's only quarterly but still worth exploring. Details at http://www.writersweekly.com/markets/mature-years-magazine.html

I've been doing a net-trawl and stumbled across several more mags that take at least occasional fiction;
The Washingtonian,
http://www.washingtonian.com/writers-guidelines/

Lilith, a mag for Jewish women, considers fiction up to 3,000 words http://lilith.org/about/writing-for-lilith/

US Catholic
SHORT STORIES. Unsolicited short stories are welcome, although U.S. Catholic does not frequently publish fictional works. Topics vary, but unpublished fiction should be no longer than 1,500 words and should include strong characters and cause readers to stop for a moment and consider their relationships with others, the world, and/or God. Specifically religious themes are not required; subject matter is not restricted. Email literaryeditor@uscatholic.org. Usually respond in 8-10 weeks. Minimum payment is $300.

Liguorian
Fiction up to 2,000 words
http://www.liguorian.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=212&Itemid=17

Fiction markets are out there but you do need to do a bit of digging!

Kate Willoughby said...

LOL about the dog killing! Very very true.

But I have to say that submitting single spaced is completely different from the published book containing POV changes mid-scene. The former has to do with the ms before the editor has accepted it. The latter obviously shows the editor was fine with it.

And Nora is not the only author who shifts POV mid-scene. Outside of the romance genre it's done often.

We will probably have to agree to disagree on this. But here's a hypothesis I'd like you to consider. Perhaps there's a "rule" (a rule that I say doesn't exist) because most people can't do it without screwing it up. Only master writers, like Nora etc., can do it without tripping up their readers.

Betsi said...

Wow, what an amazing discussion! I just want to point out that the stated purpose of Kate's blog is to help writers sell to WW. They publish stories that have POV switches, so we won't hurt our chances of a sale whether we stick to a limited POV or head hop -- it's just a personal preference.

Tamara said...

Thanks for the information about the pubs. I have done searches but haven't seen these. I am also intereted in nonfiction pubs, and it seems that these markets are drying up, as well as fiction markets (as we've discussed before).

Kate Willoughby said...

Good point, Betsi! LOL Thanks for bringing us back to the pertinent issue.

Mary Jo said...

I really don't know, is the magazine market in general drying up? WW has a huge circulation which is one thing that makes it so attractive to writers.Publisher's Clearing House, mailed offers, and telemarketers are willing to practically give subscriptions away, but news stand mags are often sky high in price. Most of them are catalogs of ads that a reader is paying for. However advertisers are looking for the biggest circulation they can find. Do the University literary publications carry ads to help defray their costs?

All of this is a business, and it would be lovely if the magazines would let us help sell them with our wonderful fiction stories. Well, I think so.

Tamara said...

Only certain university journals pay, and I don't know why some pay and others don't. I have not seen ads in any of them, and some ask for subscribers on their websites, because they are struggling. Phoebe paid me in copies, and The Pedestal, which is an online journal, paid me somewhere around ten cents a word. There are literary pubs such as Glimmer Train and Zoetrope, that pay handsomely.

reevessarah40 said...

Chris are you familar with Woman Alive, a Christian British woman's mag? I submitted an article to them this morning. How is payment handled when a writer is submitting from another country?

Chris said...

Sarah, thanks for that. Yes, I had a story published in Woman Alive a year or so ago, but the ed then asked for no further submissions for a while as she was so stacked up. As it's been a while, I'll see what more I can send.

Payment for work sent overseas (and sorry to anyone who's read this before) can be made in several ways. There's the good old cheque (check), which you receive through snail mail and bank in the normal way. You'll get charged a fee by your bank for the exchange from pounds, euros, rupees, Australian dollars, or whatever into American dollars, but it's usually not much. Far better, though, is electronic transfer. Upon request, you provide the magazine's accounts dept with your bank details, including account number, swift code and IBAN number, and they then pay you directly. Cleaner, quicker and safer. Your bank teller should be able to provide all the necessary info for you so you have it to hand when the great day comes.

I also, as a last resort, have a PayPal account. Many of the smaller mags prefer this facility. Very easy to set up using your email address.

If you are serious about submitting overseas (and why not), check out this British publication, Writing Magazine, for tips and markets. I've been a subscriber for nearly two decades and it's rare that I don't get something worthwhile in the way of competitions or a new title out of it. They also run comps of their own, which are always interesting and could generate an idea or two. Judging by the locations of the winners and people on the shortlists every month, it is read worldwide. Details available on https://www.writers-online.co.uk/ where I think you can download a sample of this month's issue. There's a story of mine in the site's competition archive too!:)

Jody E. Lebel said...

I learn so much from all of you...thanks, ladies (and gents).