Wednesday 12 December 2012

RFW Holiday Spirit Blogfest Linky List - Sign up here!

get the InLinkz code

Friday 7 December 2012

Countdown to Holiday Spirit Blogfest...meanwhile tell us about your November. NaNoWriMo? Another writing project or two?

Hello RFWers! Welcome back!

November is over - December is flying by and still no word from Donna and Denise - until now.

We'd like to hear how your November went. What did you get up to writing-wise? I'm happy to report my most successful NaNoWriMo yet, with 50,000+ words completed of a Harlequin-style novel set in Fiji . I am trying to find time to polish it most days, so I can get this one edited and off to the publisher at Harlequin Escape.

Donna didn't participate in NaNo, but had various writing projects to complete. She even finished a couple and felt pretty good about the results

As well as NaNo, I attended RFW and writing group member Charmaine's book launch for her middle-grade novel, My Zombie Dog. That was a fun-filled morning at Black Cat Books and Cafe in Brisbane. Indie bookstores are very strong in Oz! For the whole of November - and continuing still -  Charmaine and I were/are writing buddies, meeting in the State Library of Queensland and writing up a storm.

Our Holiday Spirit Blogfest linky goes up next Wednesday 12 Dec. or even a little earlier if the spirit moves me.  I hope you'll join us - post the badge on your blog and spread the word if you haven't already! There are no word limits - you can read the updated guidelines in the previous post by Donna and on the Challenges page. Go for it - anything holiday related - we want to hear about it. Remember, you can post more than one entry. 

Please say hi in the comments and let us know about your writing successes/projects...

Friday 2 November 2012


Hello out there, fellow RFWers (and other visitors).  A warm welcome to new followers and members! As previously announced, Romantic Friday Writers will be on hiatus for the month of November due to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and other writing commitments of your hosts. Are you participating in NaNo this year? Have you got your NaNo buddy? Signed up at the Official Site? We wish you good luck with your writing project, or whatever else you will be doing during RFW hiatus.

However, we couldn't finish out the year with all that spookiness of Halloween, so we're planning one more BIG BIG celebration to finish out 2012 and get us ready for a fresh New Year.

Memoir, Fiction, Recipes, Traditions...and more

For this Holiday Spirit blogfest, we are looking for excerpts of up to 800 words involving fiction or non-fiction stories of family tradition, favorite/unique recipes, inspirational articles, etc.; that involve the essence of the holiday spirit.  (Recipes and news articles do not have to adhere to the 800 word limit.)

RFW, and the blogsphere itself, include a multitude of countries, cultures, and citizenry of the world.  Not every culture celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yom Kipper, Hanuka or any variety of holidays of the “giving spirit” during the same season.  Because the RFW hosts are a part of western civilization, we choose this month for our yearly celebration, Christmas, and would like you to post whatever passes for the Holiday Spirit in your neck ‘a the world.

Your submission does not need to include an element of romance; however, we at RFW acknowledge that ANY writing involving family (their values, traditions, and conflicts) is a Romantic writing. What is more romantic than Family?

Because of the special nature of this Holiday Spirit blogfest, we are allowing up to two submissions; however, they must be in two separate categories. Meaning, you could post your favorite recipe AND an inspirational 800 word excerpt; or a link to an inspirational news/magazine article and a recipe or true story; but not two of each (two recipes, two memoir posts, two articles). If you are posting two separate submissions, please add your blog link twice and add to your name/link what it contains - eg ; Donna Hole, 1, Recipe- so participants know to look for two separate posts.

The linky will open on December 12 and remain open thru December 31 to encourage linking to the direct post. However, if you decide to link then schedule a post (or two) later, just leave a comment to let everyone know when your excerpt will be available. The RFW hosts will be checking the comments and links, and if a direct link is available, we will edit your link(s) if you haven't done so.

Please join us in celebrating life, love, presents, good food, and of course Family Traditions of all types within all cultures.

This is not a competition - it is a sharing. We hope we'll all get to know each other better!

We hope to have the Holiday Spirit wrap up posted by Jan 4 and post the link for the first 2013 RFW Challenge by Jan 7.

Happy Holidays everyone; and best wishes for your NaNoWriMo projects. Let us know how you go. Leave a comment any time. Your hosts will be checking in from time to time when they need a procrastination activity!

Monday 29 October 2012

Halloween House of Horrors Wrap Up. Featured Writer, Runner Up and Encouragement Award announced! Write romance for Harlequin Escape!

Hi Halloween Hellraisers!

What a great lot of creepy stories and poems! Did it surprise you the level of scariness we managed to conjure up for this challenge? Well done everyone. We had such a good time reading your entries we went back again to enjoy them all over. Thus one of the reasons for the lateness of this post.

Well as you know, our venerable judges, Ann Best and Nas Dean have been behind the scenes, reading, re-reading, printing out your stories, checking the guidelines and exchanging ideas for who had the best stories or prosetry this challenge. Before we make the announcement, here is a critique of each and every entry: All four of us have participated in the writing of critiques this time and we're not telling who did what. You can try to guess. Maybe our voice comes through. Unlikely seeing we each added bits and pieces to some.

The crits are somewhat more detailed than our usual mini critiques, partly due to the increased word limit, and partly because you have all put in so much effort for this challenge, your entries deserve respect. We wanted to hand out awards to more than 3 as there were so many contenders.


Mirror Mirror by Debra Ann Elliott
The beginning of this intriguing story of mirrors and ghosts immediately piqued my interest with its echoes of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty: “Mirror, mirror in my bedroom.” A teenage girl wishes for a handsome bridegroom. But Megan gets more than she bargains for. It’s a good thing that Jax loves her as he battles to save her from the evil Slag. Mirrors. Ouija boards. Good versus evil.  All the elements of a good Halloween story. I could follow this story line, and was impressed with the author’s writing skills. Very good dialogue and description.

Anna of Anna’s Adornment - 'Jenny's Robinson Crusoe - Halloween '
This story has the ingredients of romance, mystery and danger. But it didn't have the Halloween ending which I was looking for. It hooked us right in with its beginning (which set the scene right away) and there was good dialogue, easy to follow. Poor Jenny, the MC, has been on a deserted island for three years, so long that she prefers ghosts of her departed friends to no friends at all. "Please haunt me Jack."  This is obviously part of a much-larger landscape I'm not familiar with, but from this excerpt I can see the making of a much-longer story, perhaps in novella form. It left me hankering for a slice of creamy, rich pumpkin pie...yum.

Peartree Cottage by Sally Stackhouse
I liked the build-up to the haunting event with the quirky MC Ellen and her less-quirky husband George moving into Peartree Cottage.  There was backstory on the couple and their life, and a reason for them to be moving into a haunted house. There was a theme of following your heart - don't be afraid to break out - keep moving even when advice is to the contrary: "You've lived in that house since 1982 they gasped in shock...don't make any hasty decisions." I like how connecting with the ghost and understanding his needs negated his scariness, and just made him a part of the new house and new life for the perspective couple.

Vampire Dreams by Francine Howarth
From first sentence to last, I heard Vincent Price in my head as narrator to this story.  There were some abstract concepts that escaped me (not sure if the Owl is the Mystical Phantom). "Too late, too late; He's opened his blood-lined cape;"  There is no romantic element to this writing – unless you count the romance of blood lust - but overall this was spooky, passionate and evocative.  A smooth, lyrical story that catches the eye and moves forward to the bitter end.

Wild Guardian by Kiru Taye
In legend, this freshwater swamp of the Edumanom forest was haunted with “ghouls, phantoms and otherworldly beasts [that] paraded at night.” In hauntingly vivid imagery, the author takes us into this scene through the eyes of Ama, who is a wildlife photographer with “an affinity to the forest.” At the end, with Timi, who is apparently her lover, she wonders: Was the forest a dream? Perhaps, as Timi says, “It’ll be clearer in the morning.” There’s only one metaphor that jars me: “her heart did a skid as it raced off.” Hearts don’t skid; nor do they “race off.” Otherwise, in my opinion the writing is perfect.

The Panettiere Cup by N. R. Williams
Romance is paramount in this story and the author's skills as a published fantasy writer are evident. The beginning of the story and when her heroine takes flight to the old castle gave me chills. This story has flawless descriptive passages, and credible characters. Aya’s the aging heroine, loved by her husband but haunted by what might have been if she had married the man her father chose for her. In this melancholy frame of mind, she is “bewitched,” but in the end realizes what true love really is. In a brief but beautiful ending that exhibits the author’s excellent skill with dialogue, her loving husband rescues her from her melancholy flight. I feel her joy as she realizes that love comes from the ordinary moments a husband and wife share through the years.

House of Horror by Roland Yeomans
I didn't find any romance in this excerpt, but it is definitely atmospheric. This author has an awesome command of dialogue and description.  I love lines like: “I didn’t trust these two any further than I could throw Pittsburg.” Great hyperbole. And what spookier setting than New Orleans for “the LaLaurie mansion [that] towered over us like the House of Usher.” Shades of Edgar Allan Poe. Impressive!

At the Waters Edge by Panchali Sesngupta 
Love the intro of the main character, and the setting, and then the ghosts that are the main focus of this plot.  I liked the broad world view that shifts and focuses on the intimate scene, but doesn't lose contact with the initial perspective character.  An eerie “telling” scene that works because the MC is an observer to something unique and otherworldly without the need to expand or clarify.  A sighting that is a full story because of its transitory nature. Perhaps the author would benefit by running her work by others with a stronger grasp of the English language so those little mistakes can be corrected before publication.

Haunted Love by Donna Hole
Donna has a good command of dialogue. However, I don’t find any real romance here. The setting is “ordinary,” not haunted. We don’t know until the end that they’re both ghosts. And the time sequence is confusing. Is the beginning in the past or the present? I personally think the problem is that there’s more story here than can accommodate a 1000-word piece. There are some minor details, some of them typos: “Tiredness dragged at his conscious and he fell asleep” Should be consciousness. IMO it would be better to simply say, He was tired and fell asleep, avoiding the weak repetition of consciousness. He “chocked” the life out of her should be “choked.”. I can see some “foreshadowing” in: “Marcy ignored him as if he wasn't there.” The problem for me is I just can't see what’s happening when.

Charmaine Clancy - John Opie's Portrait
Charmaine writes with wry humour. No matter what the subject matter, there will be a thread of humour underpinning the text. I liked this story as it had romance and was spooky. The imagery took the reader back to another era: "...the wailing of mechanical monster..." so called as the MC didn't know what they were called. "So many inventions!" she wails. The ending gave the chills as the heroine made the mistake of getting into the demon’s arms instead of her hero's. "She tried to run but it was too late." The narration was evocative and I could visualize the events all the way through.

The O’Donnell House Case: Cade & Jules by Candilynn Fite
The author does well with dialogue. The setting is spooky. This is right on theme for this challenge. The characters are battling some kind of “entity.” I can see Cade and Jules, but I don’t see the significance of the O’Donnell House. And why is this a “case?” Jules has to catch this all on camera. Why? In the penultimate paragraph we’re introduced to Brody and Jack, two new characters we know nothing about. And in the last paragraph there’s a whole new story line. We’re also told that Cade and Jules have had a platonic relationship. So where’s the romance? I think there’s potential here for a very interesting story that explores the relationships that are only hinted at in this 1000-word piece.

Trick or Treat by Denise Covey
First paragraph is superb. Sets the creepy scene immediately. Second paragraph, a one liner: stunning alliteration and blinding image--“A white flare fizzed through the room”--the kind of writing that continues through the story. The title itself is ironic, the plot clear and suspenseful. The story begins with a “white flare” and ends with “the flames flickered…and died.” Finally, masterful dialogue pulls me into the story and the emotions of the characters as only great dialogue does. The dead and the undead.  Does one really want to be “tricked” into the arms of a dead husband? Seems like a “treat” at first, but “absolute evil” distorts. The romance element was present in the heroine’s mind as she thought the hero to be her dead husband. Author trumped her story with adequate research. Unfortunately as a host, Denise's entry cannot be awarded a prize.

Michael Di Gesu - untitled excerpt from prospective novella
This story sets up with romantic elements and there is adequate tension. It is noir with a ghostly feel set in the time of flappers, gangsters and...Liberace! The author evokes the atmosphere of the era, but I just felt there were too many adjectives.  Author has done well with good dialogue from the era (obviously researched well) and ended with true Halloween gruesomeness. “Bodies are paralyzed.” Bodies? Dead or alive? I love the ending: "As dawn breaks through a driftwood gray mist...a body floats in the Chicago River." I think this will be a gripping novella, but editors will certainly suggest the author tones down some of the description. 

The Wife’s Return by The Red Angel
This story starts with strong emotion, and escalates that emotional intensity through the story plot.  What I like about this is that the spirit learns to cope with her change in circumstance.  The character is strong and adaptable as a spirit, which implies she was equally a strong character as a living being.  It is implied throughout the plot that she was suspicious and insecure in life, and that distrust is what brought her back as a ghost. The only incongruence is that our ghost/heroine wakes up “next to her own corpse, more than half decayed” but the story shows she has only been dead three weeks.  An inconsistent timeline (and over word count) can be the “death” of an otherwise excellent story.

Spare Me The Horror by Ghazala Hossain
The first line of this story doesn't work for me.  Now familiar; newborn; well deserved rest; all create a concept inconsistency to me.  The story actually starts with the second paragraph.  There are some confusing elements to this plot concept, but the characters are vividly drawn, and the fear a consistent element.  This was edgy; an undefined fear that is expounded upon until it is clearly explained by the end of the story.  Mysteries abound, horrors are unleashed, and the apartment above is perfect for a haunted setting. This could be an excellent story deserving of more thorough editing.

Finding Ngozi by Nilanjana Bose
Can I blame Nilanjana for keeping some of us up at night, reading then re-reading her poem? Written in Five Parts - each part having its own storyline. (I) The MC returns to his childhood town where "...the cavernous maw of a starred hotel..." stares at him, reminding him that his old town is gone - "...each road leads to the emptieth end." (II) Here is the strongest romantic element of the poem, with "She was a girl." The imagery in this part is softer, evoking the MC's memories of young love: "...fingers frisking firefly lights..." and "the doves went still...", but foreshadows the horror the author has prepared for us in the remaining Parts. "...the sun spat blood..." (III) For me, this part evoked Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods..." as the MC looks for his 'princess dark'. (IV) Ah, the horror: "...I am running, my heart burns with a strange mix of love and fear..." (V) Shades of Poe scream at the reader: "Looking,..into the abyss...all things wither, and tales finish..." So they do Nilanjana. And what a Halloween tale. 

Work in Progress by Erin Kane Spock;
Erin posted an excerpt from a WiP.  The excerpt shows our protagonist lovers Kay and Philippe preparing for a hurricane type storm. (Are you psychic too Erin?)  I loved the sexual innuendo of Philippe racing through his apartment, shedding clothing as he closes up windows against the coming storm; and then ends on a balcony across from his charge and potential love Kay – aka Karma.  The coming storm portents a mystical setting, and the dialogue discloses that the present is not set in reality; but without the author pre-write, this scene does not stand alone as a romance, or a ghostly story.  It does however, have all the elements of an eerie, Halloween flash.

You Can't Escape the Darkness by A J Locke
This story could be subtitled...Escape from Hell...such was its imagery of fear evoked from the beginning and sustained right to the horrific ending. In the opening paragraph, strong imagery of darkness: "...the type of darkness that could swallow the sun." The author has used flawless language to write her story which fits the theme of' love beyond the grave'. What's she doing in Hell? The author has certainly used a romantic element - the MC loves someone so much she chooses to follow them into hell. Oh, the burn,,,The final line, powerfully penned..."The worst thing about being tortured when you're dead is that you cannot die to escape." A Halloween tale to send chills down the spine.

Heaven- Weeping Willow
I could feel the tension and the haunting presence in this heartbreaking tale. The romantic element is present in the movement between past and present. Heaven used a form of flashback to tell the story of two lovers caught in a time-stream of strong emotions.  The uniqueness of this prosetry is that the “lovers” are not together. Strong imagery: "...trampled heads of wildflowers..." denote the destruction war brings but imagery like "...warmly scented with coffee and cream..." evoke a romantic feel. The two characters interact in passing through their emotional burdens.  In the end, the present man uses the loss and regret from the ghostly woman to draw him closer to his own wife.  Well integrated prose and storyline.

My Demon, My Lover by Raelene Purtill
A book signing from hell - murder at the masquerade party.The author has delivered great action, imagery and quirky dialogue. As one commenter, Anna, said: "Getting published is enough of a nightmare without a murder!" This otherworldly crowd delivers a lot of laughs for the reader. I got humour rather than horror, although the murder was inopportune and unexpected. Ah, there's just too much pressure in this writing world! "I have been very efficient. Angela Connolly will write no more." Oh, the horror!

Happy Halloween by Yolanda Renee
I’m not familiar with this authors writing style but she set up the scene perfectly with romance and sensuality. I was intrigued by this story of appearance versus reality. The heroine’s next-door neighbor is a cross between Daniel Craig and Johnny Depp. She’s obviously sexually drawn to him. But who, or what, is he? With excellent use of dialogue and description, the author shows us he’s a passionate man. But the extreme passion quickly disintegrates the heroine’s passion as his so-called love-making turns “heat to ice” and “desire to fear.” The author surprised me with her descriptive, gruesome ending in true Halloween style, appropriate for an un-hallowed Halloween. Happy Halloween: a most ironic title.

And our Featured Writer is...(((drum roll))) N R Williams for 'The Panettiere Cup'.

Congratulations Nancy. We hope you will take the special FW badge and post it in your sidebar, post about it if you wish,  tweet, fb and link to your winning entry!

And our Runner Up is...(((drum roll))) Happy Halloween by Yolanda Renee.

Congratulations Yolanda. Please take the badge, post it on your blog, and enjoy being the writer who nearly made it to Featured Writer this week.

And our Encouragement Award goes to (((drum roll))) Wild Guardian by Kiru Taye.

Congratulations Kiru. Your entry was noticed! Your entry was considered for one of the above prizes, but in the final cut others were chosen for FW and RU.

Thanks again everyone. You are all winners. You know how carefully all the entries were considered.

We would like to offer our judges, Ann and Nas, a virtual bouquet from Monet's Garden in France and a huge THANK YOU for the hours they have expended on our behalf. Thank you ladies! Much appreciated!


Harlequin Australia recently launched their new digital only imprint, Harlequin Escape. And they asked for submissions from all aspiring and published writers out there. It was launched in August 2012. They are still looking for submissions.
Nas Dean has been taken on board for Editing. December 2012 will see the release of this new imprint.

As you know, RFW now goes into our November hiatus as many of us will be tapping out a complete novel, or 50,000 words. We return on December 12 to post the linky for our Holiday Spirit blogfest. We hope you will join us. We'd love it if you would post the badge on your blog and promote it for us. We are hoping to learn more about YOU!!

Memoir, Fiction, Traditions, Recipes...and more....

There are a lot of suggestions for what you could write for the Holiday Spirit blogfest. It is open to all. This time you can write non-fiction, fiction, whatever strikes your fancy. Watch for a post devoted to our blogfest on Friday, Nov 2.

Monday 15 October 2012

Linky Sign Up for Halloween House of Horrors - Friday October 19.

get the InLinkz code

Author Guest Post - Maria McKenzie - The Most Important Tips for Independently Publishing Your Book.

Hi one and all!

Today we have another treat for you - more on Indy publishing. Are we sending you a message? We know RFW members and followers are wonderful writers, and we hope to encourage each other to take the steps towards publishing, whether traditional or indy. Don't forget to check the Publishing links in our right sidebar. It contains some great publishing opportunities. (But first you have to finish that story!) 

So let me introduce to you - Maria McKenzie...who has some great tips to share with us, following those we've already learned...

The Most Important Tips for Independently Publishing Your Book

Now is the best possible time to be a writer!  With the advent of online publishing and e-books, authors can publish their own work.  However, if you’re considering going independent, keep these tips in mind so you can create the most professional product possible:

1.      Write a Great Story – Although your mother and your friends will love your book, make sure other writers have read it and given you an honest opinion.  Join a local or online writers group or find a critique partner if you don’t have one already.  If you need to, Google Online Writing Groups or Critique Groups.  To hone your skills, don’t only read books on craft, read books similar to what you love to write—that’s a great teaching tool in itself.  Some of my favorite craft books include Strunk and White’s The Element’s of Style, Stephen King’s On Writing, Leigh Michaels’s On Writing Romance, Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict and Robert Masselo’s Robert’s Rule’s of Writing.

2.      Edit - Once you’ve completed your novel, have it professionally edited.  You cannot edit your own work! Once you’ve worked on a piece for months or years, it’s very easy to overlook left out words, typos and misspellings (been there, done that). An editor will not only catch these mistakes, but he/she can also help fine tune your finished product by re-crafting sentences or cutting unnecessary words to improve the flow of your story. If you don’t know of an editor, Google eBook Editing Services. 

3.      Format - Format your book correctly! Formatting an e-book isn’t difficult, but it is tedious, not to mention a little overwhelming for the non-technical among us—of which I am one! I did my own formatting for the Kindle and Nook versions of my books, so if I can do it anyone can. The Smashwords Style Guide (free) walks you through the formatting process step by step to prepare your manuscript for upload to their site.  The same formatting can be used for Barnes and Noble Pubit.  Amazon guidelines are different, but very easy to follow.  However, if you don’t have time for the task, or you’re more comfortable letting a pro do it, there are many out there who’ll do it for a reasonable price. Just Google eBook Formatting Services.

4.      Design an Eye-catching Cover – Your cover is the first impression your book makes on the outside world, so it needs to grab your readers’ attention. Even if your story is great, an ugly cover will discourage readers from clicking on it. Hire a professional artist to create an awesome cover for you! Google eBook Cover Design if you need help finding one.

These are just a few tips, but some of the most important.  However, if you’re seriously thinking about going indie, I highly recommend reading some sources that will give you a thorough overview of what to expect before taking the plunge! Jeff Bennington’s The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is great.  I finished it recently, and wish I could have read it before I dove in blindfolded!

Just a few last words.  You might have writer friends who are experts in all of the above, but not the money to pay them. Indies are usually on a shoestring budget, so don’t hesitate to barter services.  Can you edit, proofread or be a beta reader? Exchange that service with a writer friend who’s a graphic designer. 

Visit me any time at I’ve compiled a “Help for Writers Page” with great links to lots of free information to help you on your indie journey!

Maria McKenzie is the author of the Amazon bestseller The Governor’s Sons. Her newest release is Escape: Book One of the Unchained Trilogy, a family saga. She is currently at work on Masquerade: Book II of The Unchained Trilogy.  Maria lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two boys. She’s  into fitness and enjoys running.  As long as she’s not listening to an audio book, she comes up with story ideas during her morning runs.
Maria around the web:
Facebook        Twitter        Website 

Maria has just released ESCAPE – Book One of the Unchained Trilogy
Daniel and Lori love each other, yet to live as one in 1856, they must escape from the unyielding society that imprisons them.

Lori was born a slave in North Carolina, yet by chance was raised alongside Daniel in a wealthy abolitionist household. The sudden death of Daniel’s mother catapults Lori back into bondage.

Relegated to chattel on a rice plantation, Lori lives in constant fear under the tormenting scrutiny of Daniel’s wretched Aunt Lucinda.

After Daniel fails to convince his relatives to free Lori, he is compelled to devise a daring escape. Although a life threatening endeavor for both of them, Lori’s freedom is priceless to Daniel, and he’s willing to pay such a price for her love.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK
  • Have you independently published your book? If so, what are some important tips you’d like to share?

Don't forget to sign up TODAY for our Halloween House of Horrors Challenge! 1,000 words of prose or poetry. Scroll down to the linky or check guidelines on the Challenges Page above!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Wednesday Wrap Up Post - Birthday Madness. Linky sign up for Halloween House of Horrors and Meet the Judges!

Your hosts apologise for the length of this post, but there is so much to tell you and we're running out of time!

Thank you as always, members and friends for the wonderful stories and poems for our challenge! This week we welcome new followers - Kappu,  Alyssa and RW Richard. New members are Ekta, Gyanban, Kappu and Heaven has re-joined us. We invite you to participate in our challenges!

Our entries were down from our record-busting 20s due to commitments from members. We especially wish Crystal's mother a full recovery from her heart attack. 

Looks like a lot of people carried on their Hate My Beautiful Friend writings; and a lot of sisterly rivalry.  So cool.  This also seemed a difficult write for a lot of people; yeah the normal word count limitation.  We know all too well how difficult it is to develop a setting, plot and characters in a 400 (or even 600) word limit; especially for those authors fitting a work-in-progress or previously published novel segment into the challenges.  But it helps cut down on reading time (many bloggers don't have a lot of time to spend reading lengthy stories and the comment feedback may reflect this); and also gives our authors practice for when they submit to publications.  Your hosts appreciate the time and effort our contributors put into submissions; and a little over world count for RFW prompts is acceptable (except for special events with specific guidelines) and expected upon occasion.

Another comment we've noticed regards the request not to edit a submission based on critique feedback.  If you are like your hosts, you read most - if not all - of the comments on every RFW post. (I confess we sometimes read them 2 or 3 times!) Many bloggers read at least one or two of the first comments and the one or two directly above their own.  If you follow much of the comments, don't you think it's downright annoying to see a lot of feedback comments that have no reference in the post because the post has been edited in response to comments.  The other outcome of the revised post is that later commenters may offer feedback that suggests to include all the changes that were deleted.

When a member is willing to accept critique type feedback and has posted FCA (Full Critique Acceptable) at the end of their entry, it is to their benefit to gather all requested feedback prior to revision so that all views are considered, and the author is not swayed by every comment.  Our contributing authors are at every stage of writing skill level, from beginning to multi-published, and feedback on YOUR post may be helpful to others in their own projects.  There have been many times when I've learned techniques from reading the critiques provided by other authors, and the discussion that sometimes continues in the comments.

We encourage our contributors to post the revisions when the challenge ends, or to exchange private e-mails as critique partners.  Some of us would like to see how the feedback was interpreted, others just want to see that the feedback was appreciated.  As a social writing group, RFW is pleased to see a number of writing relationships form within our membership.

If you haven't already, please read the Critiques Page.


 Raelene:  continued with Maxine and Blake, and the hatefully beautiful friend Lola at Lola’s birthday party.  Ah, nothing like bringing a hand made gift and retching all over the expensive hor d’oeuvres  to grind in the embarrassment.  Good thing the rain washed away all the mess and the wind cleared the area of envy and deceit.  A complete flash fiction scene.  

Adura: posted from her WiP novel(la) with Michael feeling pressured by the flamboyance of his party, and Moji’s inappropriate emotional outburst.  Loved how Sadi is in his thoughts just enough to help set the tone of rivalry, but doesn't stop us from hoping he doesn't go all soft on Moji. 

Yolanda:  a lonely birthday party for two; and an invite never opened.  Tragic.  It's tough being a secret keeper – and did I detect a hint of repressed love from body guard? Refreshing POV.

Nilanjana:  wrote of inter-planetary social networking, and a much anticipated first meeting at a birthday party.  An exquisitely built world, the nervousness of our party goer palpable. Our first sci-fi piece for RFW.

Roland: celebrated in Victor Standish style with a death-defying ménage a trios.  Body parts and death are surely not an appropriate gift for anyone else; but at least there was devils food cake.

Donna: obviously had fun writing this, so much so that she had a spare 400 words on the cutting room floor. I loved the spooky tale, the battle of spell-casting wills. Ah those evil sisters.

Linda:  has the ultimate “joke’s on you” birthday present for the lusty best friend.  The innuendo is subtle, well formed, and gives a humorous twist to an irritating situation. Managed to make Nico detestable.

Denise: used an interesting dialogue to set the setting, tone, and mystery for a reverse gift giving for the purpose of retaining love.  Diamonds may be a woman’s best friend, but they are a cold lover in the scheme of things.

Nancy: was visited by the dreaded 'malware' message so not everyone could access her story. Nancy sent it to me via email and what a great use of the Birthday Madness prompt. This story had a lot of movement, mystery and cultural undertones different to our own - good use of birthday horoscope.

Anne:   turned a typical lovers' quarrel scenario into a study of regret and understanding.  The back and forth POV shifts gave insights into each lover’s feelings and motivations.  A happy marriage is such a blessing.

Sally: a descriptive tale of sisterly rivalry, with a unique twist for cleansing the atmosphere.  Descriptive grandeur and a funny twist.

Michael; continued his noir tale with the mysterious lady clothed in a lacy black hat and plume of cigarette smoke.  The embarrassing moment is not hers, however, and a nervous party crasher makes his awkward appearance with a poorly wrapped present.

Anna: teased us with a prequel, and a foreshadowing of future events.  My stomach growled at the thought of all that food to dream of for seven long years.

So well done, one and all.

Only 9 votes received out of 13 entries, but the majority choice was Linda Katmarian with 3 votes! Congratulations Linda on your riveting story. Please post the badge on your blog and link to your winning story. Also congratulations to Sally who came in second!

Now our hopefully huge challenge for Halloween is ready for sign ups. This time you only have to signal your intention to play - SIGN UP NOW at the bottom of this post with your blog URL if you are going to write a story/poem for this challenge. We will send a bulk email reminder on October 19 to remind you to post on your blog.

It's Halloween soon!

Another FW/RU Challenge is here!

This time your entries, both prose and poetry, will be judged by our most qualified judges, Ann Best and Nas Dean. (Read more about them below.)

RomanticFridayWriters is looking for chilling stories of ghosts and haunted locations – and maybe even love from beyond the grave. Come on, let your imagination soar to world's unknown... 

A romantic element is essential, but we’re looking for stories with a thrilling edge of fear and dread to add to the romantic tension building between our Hero/Heroine.

Have some ghouly fun with this one! 

Don't forget the Romantic Element! Or did I already say that?

Let your head go! 

And this time, to cater to all who struggle with the 400 word limit, you can write between 800 to 1,000 words of prose/prosetry!

If you choose to keep it much lower, I'm sure our judges will be grateful, but you have the option of 1,000 words. 

This will be our last challenge until December  where we will host a gigantic holiday blogfest. Stay turned for more details...

Let's introduce our judges...

As far back as Ann can remember, she has loved to read and write, and signed up for every creative writing course she could manage through high school and into graduate school, eventually receiving a master of fine arts degree in creative writing. She's also been an editing intern and full-time proofreader, and has judged writing contests, both poetry and prose, along the way. Her full-length memoir, In the Mirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets, was published in May of 2011, and is currently a best seller on Amazon.  

To learn more about Ann's other books and more about Ann herself, check out her blog:

An avid and passionate reader and reviewer of romance, Nas Dean loves reading and when not reading can be found gardening, her second favorite. She has written romances, including a Vampire/Witch, but has not sought publication as yet. Recently she started Freelance Editing. She edits and proofreads for Entangled Publishing and also for some Harlequin authors. She blogs at Romance Book Paradise. Befriend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or 'Like' the ROMANCE BOOK PARADISE Facebook page!

And you can join her Romance Giveaway group on Facebook for information on all the giveaways!

Her reviews can also be found at 

  • Barnes & Noble 
  • Goodreads 
  • Harlequin 
  • Library Thing 
  • Mills & Boon UK 
  • My Shelfari 
  • The Book Depository

  • I Review for... 

  • So as you can see, Ann and Nas are ably qualified to judge our forthcoming entries. Thank you dear ladies and friends for agreeing to take on this difficult task.

    It will be re - posted soon in a post of its own...

    get the InLinkz code

    Wednesday 3 October 2012


    get the InLinkz code

    We hope you will join us for the Halloween House of Horror challenge on October 19. Linky will go up October 12. This challenge will be judged by Ann Best and Nas Dean to find the Featured Writer and Runner Up.

    Monday 1 October 2012

    Guest Author Post - Linda Katmarian on Self-Publishing

    Adventures in Self-Publishing: Laying Down the Bones

    Some say self-publishing is for the brave of heart and the foolhardy. I say it’s for the adventurous and never mind those who disapprove. In my opinion, traditional publishers have pretty much closed the doors on authors, especially debut authors. As I see it, their way of doing business often erects an obstacle course for writers. Self-publishing has its drawbacks too, but it does offer some hope and reward to writers who are willing to engage with this new trend in publishing. My advice? Be a pioneer.

    That said, there are basic things you need to do to publish your masterpiece. (I am assuming here that you have a completed manuscript that you have work-shopped it thoroughly.) There are no hard and fast rules for starting off on a self-publishing venture, but here are some things to consider.


    The first thing you need to do is educate yourself about self-publishing. God knows there is plenty of information out in cyberspace, but it’s a little daunting sorting through it and making sense of it all. Some of it is not good advice and some sites are plainly devoted to making money for themselves rather than helping authors.

    I suggest you start out with a Self-Publishing Roadmap course that is offered from time to time by Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer ( ). This six-week course is not cheap, but you will be paying for the expertise that Joel offers. It’s a big time saver in terms of acquiring the information you need and being eventually able to discern what is good information and what is bogus. Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn ( also sells a course on publishing which is more affordable, but not as detailed as Joel’s.


    The second thing you need to do is look at self-publishing as a business. You may protest that you are a writer, but in this day and age you must also be able to wear a business hat no matter which path you take to publication, traditional or self-published. I, more than anyone, would love to just be able to focus all my energy on writing, but that is not the world we live in. We are light years away from that old-fashioned notion of the creative writer plunking out his or her stories on an old Olympic typewriter and placing the finished product in the hands of an eager publisher.

    So if you are a business, what are the initial things you need to do? This varies from country to country, so check out the rules in your own country. I can only speak for what is required in the United States, but some of the information is relevant and just good business sense wherever you come from.
    •  Choose a publisher name. In the United States, you will need to file a business name notice. The name I chose for my DBA is Scheherazade Bookworks.
    • Publish your statement in a locally-approved newspaper for the required 30 days. (Not a requirement in all countries.)
    • Be prepared to keep track of income and expenses from book publishing. Open a business account at your local bank using your publisher name. You may want to consult with an accountant or your tax preparer.
    • Keep a list of expenditure. You may be able to claim deductions at tax time.
    • Set a budget. Self-publishing can cost you anywhere from $1000 to $50,000 dollars. You will have to make realistic decisions about your goals and what you can afford and what you can forego. You are going to have to evaluate how you can get the most bang for your buck. Most importantly, you will need to be aware that there are people out there who will happily separate you from your money. In setting a budget, you need to understand which services you can do yourself and which you will pay someone else to do. There are many things to consider such as book cover design, editing, formatting, distribution, marketing, and so on that can be quite costly. If you don’t see the point in laying out money for at least cover design and editing services, you may live to regret it.
    • In the United States, open an account with Bowker and buy your ISBN numbers. (I assume other countries have a similar method of maintaining a publisher database as ISBN numbers are accepted worldwide.) It’s not cheap, but you might as well buy a set of ten because print and e-book formats all require their own ISBN. Currently, it costs about $250 for ten in the US, whereas I’ve found it is considerably cheaper in Australia, for instance, ($80). Some author services will furnish you with a free ISBN. That’s fine, but realize that they will probably be listed as the publisher and that may not be something you want on your book cover, etc. You also want to retain editorial control of your book's metadata in Bowker, which you can't do if you are not listed as the publisher. 
    So there you have it from a newbie—my quick and dirty version of laying down the bones, the first steps in creating the structure from which you will launch your self-publishing venture. Once you get past these first steps, there are many other things to consider such as:

    ·         preparing your manuscript for publication
    ·         setting up your author platform
    ·         utilizing social media and so on. (This is usually required from the traditional publishers. How much more important it is for those of us going the self-publishing route.)

    These are complex decisions and part of that initial self-publishing education I suggest you get for yourself. Take one step at a time and remember to breathe. Eventually the dust will begin to subside and your decision-making path will become clearer. Uh, at least that’s what I tell myself.

    Author Bio

    Linda Katmarian grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a Master’s Degree in French literature from Illinois State University. In June, 2012, after a long career as a technical writer, she was able to finally commit herself to writing fiction full time. She lives in Southern California and is working on publishing her debut novel, ‘Dreaming of Laughing Hawk’.

    You can find Linda herea;

    For further reading, I suggest you go one of the sites Linda mentioned, The Book Designer. This is a direct link to checking if you're reading to self-publish and how to go about it.

    And here is another link with real-life stories about self-publishing from a wonderful blog I follow, How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book.

    Thank you for sharing, Linda. It is especially exciting when a RFW member embarks on the exciting journey of becoming a published author.

    • Any questions for Linda? She'll pop in from time to time to take questions from the floor. I know you're just bursting to know more about self-publishing, so fire away.

    See you on Friday for our next prompt - Birthday Madness! Check out the guidelines on the Challenges Page.  Consider posting the badge in your sidebar if you haven't already, or mention it in a post... 

    ...followed by House of Horrors, our Halloween challenge. See Challenges Page for more details. Pass the word along. People love to write Halloween stories!

    Linky for Birthday Madness goes up this Wednesday AEST.