Romance Divas Forum has a new look

Romance Divas is proud to announce a new Forum!

The conversion has been successful and all data before Wednesday, November 9th has been implemented. However, members who have registered on or after the November 9th date will have re-register. All existing members are currently activated and usernames and passwords are current. If you cannot get in, please email [email protected]

We’ll see you on the new board!

Best Opening Scene Contest

By Gina Welborn

On Monday, November 21th, we’ll begin our We All Win
Best Beginning Scene Contest.


DEADLINE TO SEND IN ENTRY: Sunday November 20th,

PM or email me the first scene in your ms. Your entry can reach a MAXIMUM of 15 manuscript pages, so remember this isn’t about submitting the most number of pages that you can. It’s about giving readers a chance to evaluate your opening scene as a whole. So if your opening scene is only 8 pages, then just send in the 8 pages. If your opening scene is 5 pages, then you may want to consider submitting a different manuscript, although sending in 5 pages is just fine.

If your opening scene has a POV shift that’s signaled with a ***, then go ahead and included the second POV…up to 15 pages total.

If your opening scene is longer than 15 pages, then please find a hooky spot to end because this contest has a MAXIMUM of 15 manuscript pages. I’ve rarely had to trim entries in the past, but with this one, I will be a stickler. Call it coordinator priviledge. Oh, the power!

But if you do have to end mid-scene, then please let me know when you enter so I can post that information on your entry.

Winner will receive her choice of either Fiction First Aid by Raymond Obstfeld or Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella.

To enter send me ([email protected] or [email protected]) your entry in the body of your email:

*no more than 15 pages of your opening scene
* title of manuscript
*word count (or guestimated word count if ms isn’t finished)
*target publisher

For our spicy hot authors, email Laura Bacchi ( [email protected] [the first letter is a lowercase “L”]). Laura is fine with attachments.

And if you want to be really helpful (hint hint hint), put it in this format:


Chapter One

“Of all the people to show up at my bachelorette party in a chicken suit. Hot damn!”

I turned around to see who my best friend Betty Lou was talking about. Oh crap. Without listening to Betty Lou’s next words, I ducked under the table.

My boss was the last person I wanted to see.

Especially after that lipstick-stained RSVP I accidentally left on his desk. Stupid me didn’t think the gloss of the Cherry Red lipstick would be so sticky.

“Turn on the music,” Betty Lou screamed. “My future cousin-in-law’s gonna show us just what the Sanders line is famous for. Booyeah!”

While the whoopin’ and hollerin’ filled the air, I crawled around Betty Lou’s bridal party on my path to the exit. Seeing Jack Sanders naked chest–not to mention his butt–was not my idea of a cracklin’ evening.



contest coordinator

Romance Divas Maintenancing

Hello Divas!

Romance Divas is 1 year old this month!

Thank you for your support as a member of our award winning website and forum. Without your membership and participation Romance Divas would not be where it is today.

With this new year we plan on implementing more changes that may benefit our members. One of the major steps is to improve our forum software. We are happy to announce that we’re upgrading to a new forum which will be implemented this weekend. This new board should alleviate the issues that we face with our current board. As a way to have a stable forum for our increased membership we decided to do what is best for the site and we apologize for any inconveniences. I know some of you divas may go through withdrawal, but be strong. We’ll be up and running in no time at all. 🙂

Please be aware our forum will be down this weekend, November 5th, and may not be up and running until the end of the next week since we will need to ge acquainted and troubleshoot the implementation. We want to make sure the forum starts off on an excellent footing.

Again, we value your membership and thank you for your continued support as we enter into our second year. Please utilize our website by reading the book reviews, articles, etc. There is more to Romance Divas than just the forums. We also have our blog at

We will be posting updates on our main website,, and will announce our new official forum launch from there.

Please feel free to contact us if you should have any questions. [email protected]

Thank you!

Jax, Kristen & Lisa
The Romance Divas

The Plan

By Leigh Royals

The trash man just rolled by. I found this out as my loverly husband was saying, “Baby, you won’t believe it, but the trash just went by.”

Why is this so unbelievable? Because, I had arranged for the garbage to be taken, but anticipating a blown-away trash receptacle, I just brought the 90-gallon can back from the curb. I didn’t want to be chasing debris around my yard that made its way there due to the tropical force winds breezing through the coast of the Carolinas. We think the truck was going on its first pass and we scrambled to get the rest of the trash to the street. What is the point? Good planning. It is so important in any literary work, Heck! In life too! Good planning would have allowed me to stay home with my kids when their school closed without getting any grief from work. Good planning would keep my house clean. Good planning would simplify so many matters in life that chaos allows to muck up.

But with writing, not everyone can be a pantster. “What is a pantster?” I asked six months ago. It turns out, there are some truly talented people who can write and write and voila! They’ve written straight from page one to ‘The End’. I used to be like that, but now have less time to devote to writing than I used to. (Note to self, refresh on Time Management Workshop.) So for those of us who cannot accomplish that feat, good planning is necessary.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of scheme, er, method. You have to find what works best for you. For some, note cards are handy. One fellow Diva can write the beginning and the end, but not the middle and this system can be quite helpful for her. By note carding, she can brainstorm and write pages around her ideas. Sure, she may not keep all of it, but it is better to write trash than nothing. You never know when an idea is going to appear and if it is appropriate for the current WIP or a future one. You can always edit later. I started my WIP as a pantster, but when I got stuck, I took my little legal notepad and stole away to my private place. That’s the bathroom, but it isn’t really that private. Just like Gina’s niblets, mine park within the vicinity and wonder what I’m doing. Helloooo, I’m baking a cake. But seriously, I did a timeline, an outline, character description and notes about what to research. That was a lot!

Another way to coordinate writing by good planning is to write backwards. What? That’s crazy you say?! I say no! Write your happily ever after, then develop the goals, motivations, and conflicts that the hero and heroine underwent to get to that point. No one starts out HEA. How did they get there?

Keep post-it notes or a handy-dandy notebook to jot down thoughts that randomly pop in when doing your day job. That way, if the ideas are related to the WIP, you can develop them. If these bits of brilliance are irrelevant to the main course, save them anyway, you can use them later. That’s how I got four shorts in the works. I still have to remind myself not to get distracted by so many tasks at once. (For more on that refer back to ‘Perseverance vs. Procrastination’ written by Michelle Arroyo).

Aha! My curb is sans garbage. Next time, I’ll find out from the public works department with time to spare as to whether or not the pick-up schedule is to be interrupted or not. I plan to be better informed and prepared!


By Heather Lester

I know what you’re thinking: giant squid can’t possibly have anything to do with romance novels – and until I read Shirley Jump’s Her Frog Prince, I would have had to agree with you.

Her Frog Prince is the story of bored socialite Parris Hammond and marine biologist Brad Smith. Parris has only one goal: to get through the charity auction her father has put her in charge of, when anything that can go wrong, does. When she falls overboard during a cruise, scruffy marine biologist Brad Smith is forced to abandon his research and play reluctant hero. Naturally the two are immediately at odds with each other, he believing her to be shallow and the type bent on changing him, much like his former fiancée; she believing him to be a poor, rude, down-on-his-luck fisherman. There are some truly funny scenes in the book but, while I enjoyed the story, I have to admit that what I found most fascinating was the originality of the plot — Brad’s quest for the fabled giant squid.

Sure, I’d heard about these creatures over the years, but not being a science geek, I had never actually read anything on them, or had mostly tuned out any mention of them in the news. The thought of giant squishy things with long tentacles gives me more chills than it does thrills, but that’s just me. I spent years in the company of an Italian friend’s family, pointedly steering clear of the calamari during their annual clan gathering. I admit it — I’m not an adventurous person by nature, especially where food is concerned, and the thought of eating anything with tentacles makes me positively squeamish. So, you can understand why I wouldn’t willingly go in search of information on the giant species.

Which is why I was surprised at how fascinated I was by this unique plot in Shirley Jump’s book. Maybe it’s not the idea of a 30 to 50-foot-long squid that interested me so much as the idea of what else might be lurking beneath the depths of the ocean. For all that we’ve uncovered in decades of archeological digs and deep-sea adventures, there’s actually very little we know about this vast planet of ours — or the galaxy beyond.

But why, you are probably wondering, am I just now getting around to talking about this book? What could possibly be the point?

The point would be the picture staring at me from this week’s newspaper, stuck way back on page nine with a large caption that read, “Photos capture live giant squid.” And there, fully visible above the headline, was a grainy black and white image of a 26-foot-long Architeuthis, photographed some 3,000 feet under the sea, off the coast of Japan.

Although the creature was filmed last September, ending a three-year effort by the Japanese team who finally succeeded where others have failed, the results were not announced until they were published in Wednesday’s issue of the British journal, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

The parallels between fact and fiction are amazing. Shirley Jump’s book was published in December 2004, nearly a year before these findings were published but mere months after the sighting. Marine biologists have been in search of the giant squid for some time now. According to Japanese team member Tsunemi Kubodera, their discovery was “the result of 10 years of sleuthing” and three years active looking. And, much like Jump’s Brad Smith, they followed sperm whales — which hunt the squid for food — in hopes of finding them. For the Japanese trio, their quest may have taken three years, but for them (and science in general), the end result was worth it.

If there is a lesson here that can be related to writing, I guess it would that, if you keep at it long enough, if you plumb all the depths of the ocean and never give up, you’ll eventually find your giant squid. Just look for the sperm whale — whatever that may be for you — to guide you on your quest.

Hyperlinks to add:

Giant Squid

Shirley Jump B&N Link

Shirley Jump Website

Not Just Another Sappy Love Story

By Jean Lauzier

Love stories…boy meets girl, they fall in love, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back and they live happily ever after. The secretary, nurse, teacher falls for the boss or powerful brooding man who has no clue she even exists and of course, the knight in shining armor who comes to rescue the damsel in distress. Remember those? So did I, and when it was suggested I should try my hand at writing a romance story, I promptly refused with an “I’ll never write that stuff.” But life likes to throw us curves and I fell headfirst into the romance genre. Not only did I learn to swim, but I now call “romance” home. Let me tell you about my genre.

There’s suspense. Curling up in front of a fire with a great mystery is one of the best ways to spend a winter evening. Murder and mayhem, cops, robbers, good guys and bad ones. Add romance to the mixture and you have two great stories for the price of one.

Something more old fashioned to your taste? Try a historical. No matter your favorite time period, someone is writing about it. From the middle ages to the days of the old west, and what ever country you dream of, you are sure to find just what you are looking for. Time traveling through the ages is a great way to spend an evening.

In the mood for a little more excitement and action? Try a military romance. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but women are doing things never dreamed of in the seventies. Spies, mercenaries, pilots, undercover agents, police officers and border patrol agents are just a few of the many careers you will find in this subgenre.

Got your head in the clouds and are a bit of a dreamer? Romance has that too. From fantasy to science fiction, you can dance with elves and fairies or explore new galaxies far, far away.

One of the most pleasant surprises I received when exploring the romance genre was finding the vampire/werewolf books. Not only are these not what I expected, but they are powerfully written and practically burst with emotion. Another great subgenre for curling up in front of that fireplace is the paranormal romance. I just love a good ghost story and here you can find all kinds.

Today, I discovered medical romances. Doctors and nurses saving lives while falling in love and trying to have a personal life of their own. I have got to check those out.

As the mom to a younger, teenage daughter, I like to be able to share my love of reading. And in the romance genre I can. From inspirational to contemporary “sweet” stories, we can discuss our likes and dislikes and how we “thought” the plot should go. It makes for good conversation on the way to town when it is just the two of us.

Not in the mood for something sweet? Then try something hot and spicy. Again, romance has something for everyone. From those who like no sex or to leave it behind closed doors to those who want passion and intimate details, you will find it.

The romance genre is full of wonder. From exotic locations to the town right down the road with characters we can’t help but fall in love with and cheer for. There is a great story for every mood, season or taste. I’m proud to call “romance” home.

The Email

by Jayna Gardner

“We’d officially like to aquire…”

When I first read those words, I was shocked. For years I’ve known I could write, wanted to write, wanted to be a published author.

How did it happen?

I originally wrote a story for a contest, small 300 word piece. I didn’t win in the contest but was encouraged to submit it to publishers. I was undecided and scared, what if they hated it and called me a no talent hack. What if no one wanted to publish it.

Then I thought, what if someone did.

With the help of a wonderful website and forum, all the friends, support and cyber love that I receive there I was encouraged and got the nerve up to submit.

And I was lucky, the first publisher I submitted it to liked it, but there was one problem.

They wanted it longer.

Your voice is the style we would like to hear on Aphrodite Unlaced.

“Lusty Aphrodite” enjoyed your story [the name has changed since I originally submitted it]! So much so that we would like to consider acquiring it if you would agree to a few suggestions.”

No problem. I expanded it and resubmitted. They loved it. But another problem.

They still wanted it longer. So I expanded it again.

And it took a little longer with the tweaking and I got a friendly little email prod from the editor that wanted it.

“Just wanted to keep in touch and I am hoping to hear from you soon about your story! We haven’t forgotten your great storyteller’s *voice*”

So I sent it to my lovely CPs (Critique Partners) and fixed and fussed with it and then resubmitted it.

And I waited. And waited, and waited to hear. Impatiently patiently eagerly waiting.

Then I heard. And another revision request, this time minor touch ups.

It’s surprising. You write and write and edit and send it to your CPs, revise some more and try to get it close to perfect and then submit it to a publisher for consideration and they you basically start the write/edit/submit process over again.

We emailed back and forth. I was asked about cover suggestions and I gave three, still waiting to see what the cover’s going to look like but I have to get the contract first, look over it and sign it and send it back before we get to that stage.

Then I got another email. Would you consider changing the title?


Then I calmed down, thought about it and eagerly awaited the response to my email about keeping my title as it was. It had evolved from the original one to this one and I think this one suited the story, couple and plot better. And I know my editor was probably thinking, okay she agreed to the other suggestions and edits and has a problem with changing the title.

Now I don’t know what I would have done if they had wanted to go with the alternate title they suggested. Now mind you it was only one word difference but one word can make quite a difference.

Then I got another email – the response. Apprehensively, I opened it.


“No problem! It’s refreshing to see an author have such a dedicated sense of their

So I got to keep my title. Huge sigh, then I read further.

“So, a bit of a direct question…Derek and Trina…are they African American, Latino?”

Trina and Derek, the heroine and hero of my story are African American. I replied, waiting, wondering. Would that make a difference?

And finally I get **THE** email…

“Hi Danielle 🙂

We’d officially like to aquire Diary of a Love.

I’m sending you this edited version before we run it by one of our line editors for the final polish”

I went over the final edited version from them and my version, line by line, noting changes and differences. Thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “That does work better than the word I used” or “Hmm. Interesting.” There was only one problem, a line I and the editor both had fiddled with and finally reading their version, I figured out which would work better. A combination of the two versions.

And now I wait, for the final version from the line editors and then I will be able to happily announce that my story, “Diary of a Love” with me writing as Angeleque Santiago will be published by Aphrodite Unlaced.

And this whole process has taught me three things:

1. Your story is not your baby. It’s a work of fiction, a creative work that can be changed and most likely will be changed and revised by your editor.

2. You have to have a strong will and know what to fight for and what not to fight for.

3. Writing is a process and a business. I knew it was when I started writing seriously, but going through the process before I get the contract and got the final word that the publisher wanted to acquire my story, that it really drove that point home.

And the best thing of all, is one of my dreams will become a reality. All my life, I’ve wanted to be not just a writer, because writer’s write. But I wanted to be a published author. And this is the first step in the process.


That wonderful website and forum with all the cyber-love, support and wonderful friends…

Too Many Ideas

Or, How to Make Room for All the People That Live In Your Head

By Jennifer Colgan

I’ve been asked a number of times in the past year where I come up with my plot ideas. Some people seem to ask out of a genuine curiosity or amazement, as though, like a miner, I excavate my ideas from some deep, dark hole. I often wonder if they picture me with a pickaxe slung over my shoulder and a tin bucket in hand, dragging chunks of useless wordage out of a subterranean tunnel in an effort to uncover hidden gems. ( I sort of like the analogy, in fact. )

On the other hand, some people ask with a sense of concern, as though the shapeshifters, werewolves and well-endowed aliens that populate my imaginary worlds might pop out of my head fully formed and swallow them up. Case in point, my own mother asked recently, in a slightly disconcerted voice, “How do you know so much about vampires, anyway?” ( Research, Mom. Bwahahahaha! )

The truth of the matter actually lies somewhere in between endless and sometimes fruitless toil in the idea mine, and the strange secret lives writers live that make our friends and family members back away slowly when we get that distant look in our eyes.

If you’re like me, sometimes the ideas are there, crowded into the little-used corners of my brain, feeding on useless facts like my high school locker combination and waiting for the right moment to pounce on a meatier thought. Other times they’re sitting on the bridge of my nose, like annoying pixies, blurring the spreadsheet on my computer screen or inserting typos into the letter my boss has asked me to type and making it impossible for me to concentrate on the real world. They manifest as snippets of juicy dialogue or sudden, overwhelming emotions that belong in the heart of my latest hero or heroine. (Sometimes they’re even blog articles.)

Needless to say, it makes life difficult now and then.

If you suffer from this affliction as well, you may often have asked, how do we deal with the flood of ideas when it threatens to overwhelm us? (And when the flood narrows to a trickle – are we better off, or worse? That’s a question for another article. )

I can only offer the most basic advice. When you can’t turn it off, go with it. The best way to get a character out of your head is to put him or her (or it) on paper – quick and dirty – in shorthand if you must, to keep the curious around you from realizing your mind is not really on the task at hand.

In short, the only cure for the cluttered head is writing. Seems like a conundrum, doesn’t it? On the upside, you can fill a notebook, a drawer, even a small closet, with your ideas and when someone asks, “Where do your plots come from?” you can point to your repository and say, “Right there. But I wouldn’t look inside if I were you. A werewolf might eat you.”

Divas Divine Blog

Hello World!

Thanks for finding your way here.

Well, at the request of our members, Romance Divas decided to create an extension of our award winning website to showcase articles, tips, and other divalicious tidbits to the writing world at large. It’s sort of a virtual mini-news magazine for us and we’re excited to have our divalightful contributors sharing their industry experience and knowledge with the many writers and readers. In the months ahead we have plenty in store for you and we hope you’ll link back to us to read the new articles, book suggestions, and much more…

As we expand, please give us suggestions on what you’d like to know and we’ll try to accommodate you. In fact, visit our forum from our main website and register. It’s a fun place to be and a great way to interact with pubbed and non-pubbed writers as well as meeting others in the same journey to publication.

Tell us what you think.

Feel free to email me at [email protected] 🙂

:: Jax