Guest Post – Illustrator Carolyn Fisher

Thanks so much to Carolyn for joining me today on the Metro Writer in Residence blog!

Writing with Scissors

At the Young Alberta Book Society AGM, I gave a talk about storyboards. A storyboard is a little map you use to plan how your book is going to look.

storyboard_template_600W_72dArtists use storyboards to figure out which chunk of story is going to go on which spread, to check that compositions are varied and that pictures look good together in sequence, and to make sure that the story arc and pacing work well in the fixed format of a picture book.

Picture book writers should use storyboards, too, for all the same reasons. When you’re writing a picture book, you need to think visually – after all, your book is half pictures. So for picture books, you write the things that the words say best and you leave space for the illustrator to draw the things that pictures say best. Why write that the sky was blue and the grass was green when the illustrator can simply show it?

Writers, you don’t need to draw the storyboard if that’s not your medium of choice. But you should try inserting page breaks to make sure that your story’s the right length, and that you have fifteen story chunks that can take you from page 4 – 32 of your storyboard. You might make illustration notes to help figure out if your story has enough visual scope.

When you pitch the manuscript, take out the page breaks and illustration notes. A good editor can tell if you’ve done your homework.

Download a storyboard template from my blog here:

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments if you want to know more.

Carolyn Fisher’s illustration has been commissioned by hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Her pictures have earned awards and been exhibited around North America.Her book Two Old Potatoes and Me was featured on the PBS TV show Reading Rainbow. When not illustrating and writing,Carolyn Fisher talks to kids and grownups about writing and art. Visit her at


Guest Post – Avoiding Flat Characters

Common Mistakes in Creating Characters

Please welcome editor Stacy Holmes to the Metro blog! I asked Stacy her opinion on characters & this is what she said:

Here are a few things you don’t want your characters to be:

1) Stereotypical.  Think of a strong, manly cowboy drawling all his words, scuffing his boots through the dirt and calling every woman he meets “darlin’.”   Don’t fall into the trap of making your characters sound like a bad movie.

2) Flat.  No one likes a blah/boring character. Actions and dialogue make characters who they are, so make sure you’re including strong verbs, movement, quirks, and specific descriptions relating to your character in order to bring them to life.

3) Too stupid to live.  A common phrase used to describe characters constantly falling into trouble and making silly—and inevitably wrong—choices. These characters are those with no validation for their actions, ie: dropping in a hole out of nowhere or engaging in a constant reign of miscommunication that could have easily been avoided by one face to face conversation in the first chapter.

4)  Too perfect.  It is often the flaws that endear a character to the reader more so than the heroics. One thing people are not in this world is perfect.  EVERYONE has flaws and THAT IS OKAY.  It makes us all the same…human.

15 years inStacyDHolmes the publishing industry have taught me many things—the most important being that dreams may not come easy, but they do come true.

My many hats include freelance editor, senior editor for The Wild Rose Press since 2007, published author in both long and short romantic fiction, administrative assistant and newsletter coordinator—together with wife and mother.

Feel free to visit my website at, and join me on my blog at Tuesdays for tips, tales and thoughts on the publishing industry and Thursdays for Q&A—no question is too little, too silly or should be too embarrassing to ask~knowledge is the key that opens many doors. So, go ahead and ask me:

Guest Post – Publicist Mindi Sue

So you’ve published a fun, sassy book – had some success – garnered buzz – even hired a publicist for a little bit to help you reach the media – but what happens when your time with your publicist has come to an end and you want to continue promoting your project?

Send that old fashioned thank you note – Yes!  THAT thank you note.  Surely there were some media outlets that loved your book and either reviewed it or gave you a mention?  Send them either a hand written thank you or an email – you’ll be surprised at how many relationships are cultivated from one simple thank you

Social Media – you’re probably on Facebook – but how about your book?  Create a separate page for your book.  Hold weekly contests for a free signed copy and downloads; tease your audience with excerpts from your next title – Tweet, Google + – use all available means to keep up the buzz – in fact, offer the title as a free download via Amazon

Blog Tours – a very low cost way to secure 10+ reviews from online bloggers – which usually causes the +1 effect and other online reviewers requesting copies to read and review

A little help from your friends – solicit reviews from your friends and family and ask them to recommend your title on Amazon

Follow up – you were most definitely provided with a wrap up report and contact list from your publicist – use that list to send a “Hi, How ya doin’?” email to each contact that was sent the book and who they corresponded with – stay relevant!

Schedule a book signing or reading – call your local Mom & Pop store and book an intimate event where you read excerpts and do a Q&A with a signing after – the store will most likely co-promote this with you

Communicate – see an article you like that might tie in with your book?  Email the journalist and tell them you enjoyed their piece and have a similar subject matter that could make for a great follow up – their emails are usually at the bottom of the article

MindiBlack & blue star is the vision of founder, Mindi Sue, who has spent numerous years in the entertainment industry refining her skill set at both major and independent record labels and marketing agencies before making the jump to launch black & blue star. In addition to negotiating contracts and endorsement deals for talent, Mindi’s experience includes national radio promotion, publicity and marketing.

She holds an MBA in Sports & Entertainment Management from the University of San Francisco and a BA in Communications from Hofstra University. Phone: 310.924.5651 or email her at



Guest Post – Writing Erotic Romance

© Agg | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Agg | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

From Natasha: The following post is intended for mature audiences.

If you are a writer considering the erotic genre, then why not join award-winning erotic romance writer Tracy Cooper-Posey, on February 16th at the St. Albert Library and learn the basics of the genre? Please register by calling 780-459-1682 or stop by the Information Desk on the 2nd floor.

And now, on to our guest post!

Good day, Natasha! Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog.

Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Subject, and I write science fiction romance and contemporary romance ranging from sweet to erotica. Erotic Romance fits somewhere in the middle. Sweet romances focus on the couple coming together, and have maybe one, if any, scenes with intercourse. Usually the scene will fade before intercourse happens, and readers will be left to use their imagination. Erotica is all about the sex, though it does require a plot and plenty of emotion. Erotic romance brings the characters together, detailing the struggles they go through during their relationship, usually when they first meet. And when there is sex, it is hot and heavy, and ALWAYS consensual. It really is a perfect combination of the two.

I never started out writing erotic romance. My stories were very sweet, and I carefully closed the bedroom door before my characters got it on. But then I joined a popular weekly author hop, and I was reading excerpt from many erotic romances and erotica stories, many with elements of BDSM. (No, not Fifty Shades style. These stories are much more hard core.) They opened my eyes to even more of the romance that was out there. And, when one of my critique partners told me about a submission call at one of her publishers, I thought I would give it a try. Celestial Seduction was the first erotic romance I wrote. Since then, I’ve written much steamier erotic romance stories, and even burned up the pages with some erotica stories. Though, I still do write the sweet romances, because just like in my reading, I like variety. And I’ve tried new sub-genres for me, such as ménages, and GLBT stories. Mind you, just because I read and write these stories does not mean I practice everything. Thriller authors are not serial killers, either. But I have learned many things about myself, and my husband and I are closer than ever.

With the growing popularity of e-readers and e-books, it becomes easier than ever to find these stories, and to read them without all those around you knowing. So, if these stories sound like something you would like, give one a try. There are so many out there for all tastes.

Here’s the blurb and excerpt from my latest erotic romance, Made For Her, a science fiction military romance that involves cloning:

Made For Her by Jessica E. Subject:

JES-MFH-300x450After terrorists murder the love of her life, Colonel Mikayla Jones trains squadron after squadron of the clones he brought to life, to take to the skies. When she discovers a young clone of her husband in her newest class, her world spins out of control. How can she command the look-a-like when she can’t help but yearn for him to fill an ache in her heart?

Dare was created to be the best. As the first Daniel clone to leave Onatria labs, he needs to prove he is more than just a DNA copy. To do that, he must rely on the wife of the man who donated his genes. But when she refuses to train him, Dare faces discharge and returning to the labs. Can he convince Colonel Jones to finish his training and find a way into her bed? Or will long kept secrets unhinge the entire clone project?

Buy Links:

Amazon (Canada/US/UK) | Decadent Publishing All Romance

Jessica E. SubjectJessica Subject started writing to encourage her daughter to read. Now she writes to keep herself grounded. Although she reads many genres, she enjoys writing Science Fiction Romance the most and believes everyone in the universe deserves a happily ever after. She lives Southwestern Ontario, Canada with her husband and two kids and loves to hear from her readers.

Website/Blog  | Twitter | Facebook |

Guest Post – Poet Alexis Kienlen

Want to set your inner poet free? Then read this excellent post by Alexis Kienlen and join the Abbottsfield Library at 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 14, 2013 when they host Edmonton’s Poet Laurette, Anna Marie Sewell.

From Alexis: Here are some things you can do to help take you from scribbled notebook pages to published book.

1. Read. Start reading literary journals (things like Prairie Fire, Arc or Filling Station), and poetry books by Canadian authors. Find out what kinds of books are getting published. Learn about the various poetry book publishers and the kind of work and people they publish. Read something different, like works by ancient Chinese or Indian poets. Read the classics. Read contemporary poets from other countries.

2. Go to poetry readings. Support your fellow poets, and talk with those who are in the same space as you, both geographically and developmentally. Watch people give readings and see how they do it. Learn from the masters and find out what works for you. Take classes and workshops if you can. Break your mind open. Create a community of friends who love words.

3. Start submitting to literary journals and enter contests. Join the Writers Guild of Alberta or other poetry organizations and watch for contest calls. Check and find out where you can send your work. Publishers are more willing to look at you if your work has been published in other venues, if you’ve already contributed your voice. It may take a long time, but it will help you in the long run if you get yourself published in literary journals before you approach a traditional publisher.

4. Create suites of poems. Good poetry collections are not birds’ nests of found material. Poetry collections have narrative threads and longer ideas that span the entire book or collection. You can try breaking your book into chunks. I wrote my second book, “13”, by writing the sections individually, taking care to make sure that the major themes were woven throughout the book.

5. Send it out to publishers. Follow the instructions on their website and make sure that you’re bending to their rules and guidelines. Let them know you are serious. Act like a pro, even if you might not feel like it.

6. Wait. And try to forget that your little not-yet book is out in the world. Keep working and send it out again. Keep working on steps one through four. Play, learn, write and don’t ever forget that you are doing important work.

Alexis Kienlen is the author of two collections of poetry “She dreams in red” and “13”. She is also a journalist, books columnist and has taught creative writing to teens for the past two summers. Learn more about her at