Thursday, September 26, 2013

Falling in Love in One Thousand Words or Less:The Art of the Romantic Short Story

This month I celebrate my tenth sale to Woman's World magazine and the launch of my short story collection, Love in Bloom. Today's post is for those of us who love the short story. Especially the romantic short. If you're writing a novel, this information isn't new. Just..shorter. 

Like the novel, a short story is often based on the 'what if' premise. As I was dashing out of the house in pajamas and a raincoat one morning, the 'what if' for The Slipper Thing, a 2006 Woman's World romantic fiction, hit me. What if anyone saw me? What if I got in a car accident, in my pajamas! Tune in to your own 'what if' moments. Turn them into a story.

I brainstorm short stories on legal pads with pencil. It 's become a ritual. Getting away from the computer gives my brain permission to wander into 'what if' territory. Then I let my mind start wrapping around the opening scene I eventually jot down. Sometime I get the story all at once, but more often it appears in pieces: exposition one day-rising action on another, etc. 

Elements of the short story plot: 

  • Exposition : the beginning, introduction of characters and the conflict
  • Rising action: events leading up to the  climax
  • Climax: the darkest moment/the high point
  • Falling action: the story begins to conclude.
  • Resolution: the end, with all threads tied up.

The lines connecting each element of the short story plot are not rigid They are unique to each particular story . If your story moves quickly to the climax that side of the pyramid will be shorter, etc.

Here's your very own plot diagram to play with. Check out ALL the buttons and gadgets. You can't hurt it. The program was designed for kids. 

Techniques of the short romantic story: 

Bait & Switch-Lead the reader one direction and then surprise them in another direction.

Synchronicity-coincidence or chance, the Seinfeld principle-the connection of seemingly random incidents

Butterfly Effect-The concept of a small change having great consequences.

Satisfying Ending-Not necessarily HEA (Happily Ever After). The satisfying ending leaves us envisioning the next steps (however tentative) the Hero and Heroine will take toward their HEA. 

Full Circle-Returning to the original theme, premise or statement.

Use these techniques as they organically lend themselves to your story. The only one that I recommend always using if you are submitting to Woman's World is full circle. Of course all Woman's World stories have a satisfying ending. 

Here's the plot elements for my short story The Eyes of the Love, which by the way, did not sell to Woman's World.

I took the stereotypical cop with donuts and gave it a fresh twist.

  •  The story begins with a hero and heroine with back story. She thinks he's a jokester and she isn't going to be heartbroken again by him. In fact she won't even look him in the eye. (Exposition)

  • He actually really likes her and proves it by coming into the shop daily. (Rising Action) (The reader doesn't know that there is a small  BAIT & SWITCH going on.)

  • The dark moment is when she turns down his date offer and he thinks she's been out with someone else. (Climax)

  • The next day in a final overture, he lays it on the line. He isn't joking now. (FULL CIRCLE) He admits he only comes to the shop because of her. He hates donuts. (BAIT & SWITCH complete) (Falling Action)

  • She looks into his eyes and sees that he is not joking. In fact, she see The Eyes of Love. ( FULL CIRCLE ) They kiss. (Resolution)

One of the most important elements of writing the short story is giving the story time to sit and evolve. Put it on the shelf and go back to it in a week. I suggest keeping several rotating through the fermentation process at one time. Get stuck on the climax or the bait and switch twist? Just let the story sit for a bit and it will come to you.

My goal is to leave the reader with a smile. That's all. This isn't rocket science. I want to entertain in the amount of time it takes them to finish their cup of tea or coffee.

"The short story apologizes for nothing. It exults in its shortness. It wants to be shorter still. It wants to be a single word. If it could find that word, if it could utter that syllable, the entire universe would blaze up out of it with a roar. That is the outrageous ambition of the short story, that is its deepest faith, that is the greatness of its smallness."-Steven Millhauser, New York Times

 So tell me. Have you ever tried your hand at the short story? Submitted to Woman's World? Can I answer your questions about my experiences with Woman's World?

I'm giving away two short story critiques today (limit 7 pages). Mention you want a critique in the comments. To celebrate the launch of Love in Bloom, one visitor will win a cup on me

Love In Bloom: A collection of seventeen poignant and romantic short stories guaranteed to make you smile, laugh and remember your first love. (and yes, Julie!!! It's only 99 cents.)

Additionally, my Tina Russo web page and Facebook page launch today. I'd really like it if you'd like me.

 Cover design by Covers by Rogenna.



  1. LOVE this post, Tina!! I've never written a short story (okay, since I've been out of school, LOL) but really, really want to try my hand at this - - so I'm thrilled you're sharing your wisdom and experience with us.

    CONGRATS again on selling to WW (multiple times!) ~ I actually smile now when I'm in the grocery store line and see copies of WW in the magazine rack by the check-out line. I have to stop myself from informing strangers that I know someone who's published stories in WW !!

    Please put me in your drawing for the cup (love that saying!).
    And I'm setting out some peach pancakes, pecan waffles, and warm syrup for anyone who wants breakfast.

    I'm about to visit your new site and FB page, then head to snooze-land. Hugs, Patti Jo ~ zzzzzzzz

  2. You can come to my launch party anytime! You bring food and compliments! Sweet dreams.

  3. Stop being mushy, Jagears, or I'll cry.

  4. Very cool!

    Ok, I started out writing short stories. All through high school and college. I've only had two published in literary magazines (2006, 2007). I submitted 4 or 5 to Women's World and got comments back, but not sure if I needed to revise or... ??

    Anyway, I love short story authors. Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Vaclav Havel, James Joyce, Kerouac, Neil Gaiman, Cormac McCarthy, Ron Rash, Percival Everett (who wrote a really funny one about romance novelists!).... Blanking on any others, but really, I love shorts more than most anything else.

    Anyway, I don't have any real talent at short stories. Which makes me sad because someone once said that if you 'can't write it in 1500 words or less, then you can't write at all'.
    HA! And Ouch!

    P.S. another thing I truly love about the advent of indie publishing is the rise of short fiction collections. I have several friends who are finally making a living on their anthologies, because NOW readers can find them. There were really so few publishing houses willing to take a risk on short story collections, and now that's not an issue. Can't wait to read it!

  5. (See, that comment was practically a short story and there was no progression or resolution...)

  6. Love this post. I've written two short stories - both for contests and both won the contests - but I've never considered myself a short story writer. My husband is the master at short stories, though, and is busy compiling them into a bundle for release.

    Congratulations on your 10th story for Woman's World! The short story was always my favorite part of women's magazines.


  7. Hi Tina! I've not written a short story in years. You've got me thinking now.

    Congratulations on your new book, your new website and author page.

    What an exciting time for you!

  8. Thanks for the post! I have tried subbing to them a few times...form rejection! LOL So I stopped, but maybe I'll try again. I appreciate the tips and congrats on the sale!!

  9. Oh, this is lovely! Hooray for you showing the art of the short story so wonderfully!!! Back in the day the only reason I bought Redbook magazine was for the fiction! I thought I was crazy because Oh! There were articles in there???? Who knew???? :)

    And a short story collection to boot! Oh happy day, oh glorious day!

    I brought coffee, a big, fresh pot and the Keurig but it hardly seems enough!

    Mimosas!!! Yes, Mimosas!!!! and chilled champagne for all!

    A toast to the Radcliffe...(That's like being the "Donald" in Trump land)

    "To many books, many stories and continuing joy in your new-found career!!!! Brava!!!"

    Congratulations and nice post. I published some shorts early in my career in the Sunday School papers (remember them?) I'm not very good at them but may give them a shot again after your tutorial. I'm off to like the Facebook page, then on to work, early appointment today, it isn't even LIGHT yet in Northern New England, sigh. I do not do fall well.
    Kathy Bailey

  11. Okay, just checked out the Web site, very nice, love the image of the antique typewriter, I started my career on one of those (high school, thank you very much).
    RUTHY, I used to love Redbook fiction! Do you remember Marjorie Franco's Genevieve and Alexander stories?

  12. What issue of Woman's World? I'm not a regular buyer, but if I know you're in there I'll pick one up. October?

  13. Good Morning, TINA! I can't wait to read the short story book AND your latest one in Woman's World! I wrote and loved writing a lot of short stories in high school, college and in my 20's--entered contests, but didn't submit any to magazines. I haven't tried my hand at one in ever so long! I think it takes a special talent to tell a satisfying story in 1000 words or less and I'm not sure that I have that gift! :) Thank you for the tips!

  14. Good Morning, TINA! I can't wait to read the short story book AND your latest one in Woman's World! I wrote and loved writing a lot of short stories in high school, college and in my 20's--entered contests, but didn't submit any to magazines. I haven't tried my hand at one in ever so long! I think it takes a special talent to tell a satisfying story in 1000 words or less and I'm not sure that I have that gift! :) Thank you for the tips!

  15. First, CONGRATULATIONS on selling your 10th short story to Woman's World.

    I do write short stories too. I have submitted to Woman's World and came very close once, but still no sale.

    Your post is very timly for me. I just started a short story aimed at Women's World while on vacation. It's about half way written and it's a bait and switch!

  16. Tina, I'm so glad you posted about short stories and WW magazine. I just learned about WW and their romance shorts three months ago.

    I've always liked short stories so I decided to write for WW while I finish my novel.

    I used to be a Red Book girl—for the fiction!!

    I've sent WW five stories total.

    The first one was rejected in 27 days. :-) With a nice letter!

    They still have the second one. It's been there over two months.
    Third story went off right after the second. They still have it.
    Fourth went off four weeks ago. I dropped the fifth one in the mail this pass Monday.

    Writing a short, tight story is such good practice for keeping my novel tight and clean. Plus it's a break that rests my mind from more serious writing.

  17. Reading short stories, for me, is like taking a break from life without stealing huge chunks of writing time. :)

    Does anyone remember those True Love magazines? I used to read the teen edition many moons ago.

    Congratulations on your book, and your pages.

  18. Please enter me in the drawing for the short story critique. Not because I have a short story sitting around, but because if I won a critique, I just might work up enough nerve to write a short story.

    Honestly, I've thought about writing them before and would like to give it a try, but I can't think of anything worth saying in such a short amount of space. I'm really amazed by people like Tina who DO think of something important that they can say in 7 pages. Maybe one day I'll figure it out. :-)

  19. Oh, and I liked you, Tina, but not because I'm being mushy. ;-P

    Though I think if you want a lot of people to like you, you need to pull a page out of Ruthy and Mary's books and pepper three different facebook links into your post, then set them off with caps and exclamation points and bright red lettering. Just a thought . . .

  20. Tina, I've considered writing short stories, but I haven't braved one. Yet. I need to read some to figure out the cadence, if you will. I guess I'll be going out to buy Women's World today! :) Thanks for this, I'm holding onto your post to refer back to once I step into the short story waters.

    I like your webpage—such fun pictures. And I "Liked" your FB page. Way to go!

  21. Oh my gosh, I forgot to ask you to enter me in the drawing for a critique. Please do!

    I liked you. Several times, I think?

    Traveled over to Amazon and got 'The Rosette Curse'.
    I'll be taking a 'reading' evening this evening.

  22. Congrats TINA on 10 for WW. Hooray and aren't they smart to buy your stories?

    And a Collection of short stories. What a great gift that will make. I will have to talk to you about signing some for me. smile

    I'm heading for FB now. Have fun today.

  23. PATTI JO the peach pancakes and pecan waffles hit the spot. Yum and I put some Georgia honey on them.

  24. Hi Tina
    Love this post. I think I'm better with the Short Story format - no chance for a sagging middle *heh*. I bought Love in Bloom immediately upon seeing the link. I so LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the The Rosetti Curse, I know your anthology will be a great read.

    I do the 1,000 word challenges in the eHarlequin boards as often as I can. I get great story ideas from there (have quite a few 1,000 word scenes that are begging for a short story completion).

    Like I said before, I think my brain is better wired for the short story format. It may have to do with my animation experience and the shorts I've created there. (with 30 drawings per second, i have to keep "stories" short or i'd never finish my animation).

    Oh, please put me into the hat for a short story critique. I really, really, really would like that.

    I think I need to check out specs for Women's World submissions. Subbing there is something my brain says "you go, Girl. This you can do." It might net me a ton of rejections, but then again...

    Thanks for inspiring me today, Tina.

  25. Great article! And congratulations on the sale :) I did that 500 word story for RT magazine, and that was a challenge :) It might be fun to try more...

  26. Well, for whatever reason I didn't realize 'Love In Bloom' was already out! Went back and got it.

    Tina, sorry I spelled the title of your book wrong. I always want to put an 'e' on the end of rosetti, instead of an 'i'. :-)

    Today feels like Christmas in September, Fun, fun!!

  27. Wonderful post, Tina!! I've never written a short story, but would like to. I really enjoy yours!

    I haven't heard of all the techniques on your list. Can you give an example of the Butterfly Effect?

    Congratulations on the success of your stories at Women's World magazine and the release of Love in Bloom! Off to download it.


  28. Hi Tina

    I was blown away by that cover. It's so artsy. I don't write short stories since I was made to in school but admire people who can.

    Is your collection available in hardcopy? It would look good on the coffee table.

  29. LOL ... I took one look at the title and figured this was not only NOT for me, but pretty much IMPOSSIBLE for me!!

    BUT ... I'm intrigued and in awe of anyone who can do it, and NOBODY does it better than you, Teenster!!

    LOVE the Steven Millhauser quote: "The short story apologizes for nothing. It exults in its shortness. It wants to be shorter still. It wants to be a single word. If it could find that word, if it could utter that syllable, the entire universe would blaze up out of it with a roar. That is the outrageous ambition of the short story, that is its deepest faith, that is the greatness of its smallness."

    This blog, that quote, and your WW stories almost make me want to try.

    Almost. :)


  30. Tina - I would love a short story critique. Thanks for the opportunity and congratulations on another sale to Woman's World

  31. I think you should consider taking up the short pen again, Virginia.

  32. Thanks, Jackie. I am the Queen of Short.

  33. Halee, remember when ALL the magazines did short stories? And serialized shorts. My favorite.

  34. Jessica, the trick with Woman's World is to never, ever, ever give up. Go write.

  35. I LOVE short stories, Tina! You wrote this blog for me, didn't you?

    Do tell about your short story release. Have the stories been published previously or are they new creations?

    Okay, when do you have time to do all you do? Don't answer. You don't sleep, right?

  36. Thanks, Rufus. I loved the Redbook and Good Housekeeping shorts.

  37. Kathy, it may be out today. I'm going to go check later. I'll let you know today or tomorrow when I do the contest update.

  38. Thanks, Glynna!!! I say try again. Why not?

  39. I was a Ray Bradbury nut.... his short stories: loved/love them. And the James Herriot books are really a collection of short stories and I love that manner/method of telling stories. There was always an overhanging arc, but the reality was Jim strung together thirty cool short stories and made the reader love every single one of them.

    Short story telling is an art into and of itself, but I'm dying laughing because Naomi told Tina that four thousand exclamation points and a half-dozen links (laughing out loud here!!!) are good....

    Because I'm sure my friend Teeeeena drops her face into her hands and g-r-o-a-n-s every time we do that.

    That's the fun of having 13 of us, we're comically different!

    I brought chocolate frosted cream filled donuts for everyone. Dave stopped by the store today and thought it was a good idea to bring them home...


  40. Close in Woman's World does mean a lot, Rose. And sorry for being base, but that is just too much money to toss away. 800 dollars for 800 words!!! Keep writing and subbing.

  41. Mary Hicks!!! Way to go. My suggestion is to send one a month.

    You will sell if you don't give up.

    My only regret is not having time to submit more.

  42. Bridgett, I have sold many a story to the Trues. They do take sweet romances, and essays. Another good market,though not as lucrative or fast.

  43. Thank you, Naomi. No mush is good.

    Yeah, I am just not a bright letters exclamation point kinda girl.

    I'm a siddle in and siddle out kind.

  44. Thanks, Sandra and Jeanne.

    You are generously kind.

  45. Yes, Deb H. Do it. Do it. Do it.

    Really, WHY NOT??

    Woman's World stories go to a first reader, the Assistant to the Editor and then they go to Johnene Granger the Editor of Fiction since 1999. From her to Ms. Sable the big Editor.

    So three eyes to impress.

    But so worth it.

  46. Why not Sherri? Start it, let it percolate and send it off and start a new one.

  47. Well, Mary, most folks want to put an A on the end of Rosetti.

    Like the Rosetta Stone.

  48. Elaine. LOL. On your coffee table. What a thought.

    Actually I am working on print copies of both books right now.

  49. I didn't want to steal to much from Mr. Millhauser but that article is a stitch if you have time to read it.

  50. Aha! Ruthy caught that. Yes. Yes. Yes. We are all different.

  51. Cindy! Congratulations to you. Cindy Regnier was one of the top finalists in the Family Fiction short story contest.

  52. The book is 17 short stories. 9 previously published by WW and the rest never seen by the world.

    WW buys First North American Serial Rights so you can sell them again.

    But note the Trues buys ALL WORLD RIGHTS so can never use them again.

    Important difference.

  53. Elaine, BTW. Do stop by and see Covers by Rogenna. I have already bought my next three book covers from her. I pay extra for customization.

  54. Debby, I sleep in spurts. Actually insomnia since last Friday, but last night I did sleep. Didn't get up once. WONDERFUL!!!

  55. Congratulations on your launch! May you skyrocket to the moon!

    I've read most of your Woman's World short stories and at one time tried selling to them. The short story form is really an art! Well done!

    Nice cover, btw

  56. I would love a critique. I also liked your facebook page.

  57. Thanks, Rogenna. Do you think they sell chocolate on the moon?

  58. Yay, Tina! So many great announcements to celebrate today! Congratulations on ALL! (I liked you!)

    Hubby says I should concentrate on short stories rather than the great romance novel. He may be right since I don't have much time. (I won a short story contest a couple of years ago.)

    A story idea came to me after reading the Seekerville post about WW during the summer. It's WRITTEN and has finished the "fermenting" stage---just waiting for a polish, then on to my CP. Your tips are exactly what I needed. Thanks! Now to check out your new webpage.

    Please enter me for both the critique (I'm almost ready) and the cup. Love that question!

  59. It is almost certainly inappropriate for me to mention that your Elements of the short story plot graph looks a lot like a graph of sex.

  60. Once a month to WW—got it! Thanks for the tip. :-)

  61. I love that you just published a book of short stories. I got a copy instantly, TINA!!!!!!!
    You are my hero.
    Well, you're one of my heroes.
    I have several.

  62. You and Ruthy and Julie all doing this Indy Pub thing are just so inspiring and brave and scary.

  63. This is off topic but I just realized I have an apple tree.
    Well, I knew I had an apple tree, but it's over the hill (geographically, not chronologically) in the cow yard. I went there and found (drumroll) APPLES.
    In the 22 years I've lived here I've never paid attention to these trees. (there are two) the apples are small and wormy and generally easy to ignore.
    This year they are magnificent.
    I just ate one now.
    To make this relevent (is it too late?) I may write a short story about love in an apple orchard.

  64. I'm definitely in for a critique.

    I notice we are similar in how we work our stories. I have to be away from the computer.

    I submitted to WW a few years ago and was rejected. I have three more started.

  65. Sherida, short stories are a great foundation for the novel. They really are. The process is similar and working with editors and revisions is similar. The generous editors at WW do as for revisions at times.

  66. Yes. Mary. Very Inappropriate.


    But not my graph.

    A universal graph I borrowed and tweaked.

  67. Do it, Mary. I have one in my collection about a cherry orchard.


  68. Christina.

    You submitted ONCE? Come on! I know you. You've got more chutzpah than that.


  69. It's a Tina Day! This morning, I bought a Woman's World on the offhand chance there would be a Tina story ...okay, the teaser about curing thinning hair had something to do with my purchase, too. But guess what ... there was a Tina story. About maple bars. Oh, and there was a romance in the story, too.

    Then I arrive in Seekerville to find an anthology of Tina short stories, a new website ... Mercy, woman, when do you have time to do all this???

    So happy for you :-)

    Nancy C

  70. P.S. The short story tips are most appreciated -- as is the fact that WW buys First North American.

    Plus, I must say again (yes, I must) how delighted I am that indie publishing has made books like your anthology available.

    Do you folks realize how tall my 'to read' stacks are with all the books you're producing? Keep 'em coming, though.

    Nancy C

  71. Nancy!!! Thanks for the heads up!! Must get to store to buy it!!

  72. TINA
    alrighty then. DO IT I shall. Note to self: be prepped for lots of rejection before the sale...

    i think its okay to comment off topic. your random thoughts tend to give me something to smile/laugh about. that, and it gives Ruthy fodder to tease you as well (which amuses me too... hmmm, i guess i'm easily amused. is that a good thing?)

  73. Hi Tina:

    Oh happy day!

    I’ve wanted to read all your WW stories ever since I learned you had written a collection of them. When I saw the book cover for “Love in Bloom” this morning I thought it was just another ‘cover reveal’ and that I would have to wait months for the book to come out. (You need to put a "Buy it Now" button on your post!)

    But no! DebH mentioned that she already downloaded “Love in Bloom”. So I rushed to Amazon, found the book, downloaded it, and have now even read the first story!

    I can tell you this: the first story alone is well worth the $.99 price for the whole collection. I can’t imagine that the other stories could be better than that first one. But that would be nice. : )

    BTW: I was in so much of a hurry to read your first story, I searched “Love in Bloom” to find the book on my Kindle. I found it and started reading...but it was Karen Rose Smith’s “Love in Bloom”!

    You know how the Kindle just starts on the first page and not from the cover or title page? Well, I started reading and right away it didn’t seem right. The book had 220 pages and the type face was currier. It was like reading typewriter copy! I had to go back and search again. At last I found the right “Love in Bloom”!

    Also, I think you should read James Scott Bell’s “Fiction Attack! Insider Secrets for Writing and Selling Your Novels & Stories -- For Self-Published and Traditional Authors” - this is a Kindle eBook. I won this book a few weeks ago on Seekerville and it is ideal for the indie publisher. I suggest that you read the chaper about what to place at the end of your ebook. I think you may have missed some very strong marketing opportunities. Every ePublisher should read this book. The marketing ideas are sound and proven. And it’s just $2.99! One good idea is well worth that!

    Now I have a question for you:

    What do you think is the purpose and the goal of a short story?

    You told us the parts of a short story but not what we are trying to achieve. What is it that makes the story special! I'm looking for that 'Je ne sais quoi' that makes WW buy it. (Come on, you tell us.) :)


    P.S. I outdid your hero in your first story. I sent my wife a heart shaped wedding style cake from Anne’s (the best bakery in Tulsa) right to her school where all her fellow teacher’s could see it and eat it! They took pictures and I think the event is still talked about in the teacher’s lounge. And this was just the third date! Regardless of my romance writing ability, I do know how to practice it!

  74. Tina - congrats on a 10th sale to WW! Congrats on the book as well. It has a lovely cover. I'll go over to Facebook next and like you, since you're such a sweetie.

    Please enter me in the drawing for the mug and critique. I like writing short!

  75. What makes the editor's stamp BUY? I don't know.

    Remember that it must go thru three editorial eyes first. So three different subjective voices must love it.

    Here are some reasons I had for rejection and revisions.

    Too many of the same story lately.

    Not believable with reasons given.

    Pet cannot die in Woman's World. That was the hamster in The Slipper Thing. I rewrote it and sold.

    I also used to have an editor for a different magazine that loved cats. I sold every cat story I ever subbed to her.

    So it's all about timing and magic.

  76. Thanks, Terri!! I appreciate your kind words. Note the exclamation points. Several days a year I allow myself to indulge. :)

  77. About short story revivals.

    In the 1840’s there was a great short story revival. Commuters began taking the train into London to work. They wanted something to read that would not take longer than 30 to 45 minutes. This sudden demand was huge and hard to fill. Novel authors would publish their books one chapter at a time to help fill this need. Lots of people were reading two short stories a day.

    Well, today the same thing is happening. People have phones that display ebooks. They want stories to read while commuting or waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting on line at the post office or anywhere else. This is the time to jump on the short story bandwagon.

    Maybe I should publish my six WW romance rejections and three WW mystery rejections. I could call it “Love in Unrequitance”

    I’ve been ‘short format’ writing advertising copy for over three decades. ‘Short’ is my natural distance. It would not cost very much to hire a professional editor to edit the little things. I think I better stop and go check into having a cover created.

    Back: I liked the cover of “One Silent Night”, on Rogenna’s website, so much I tried to buy the book -- but it was not on Amazon. Too bad, you just have to capture those impulse buys when they happen. I love her covers but what do you think the odds are of having many books out there at the same time that are all using the same cover art? That is a worry.


    P.S. Writer exercise. Start reading these comments from the newest backwards to the first. This way you can experience first hand the frustration readers feel when you don’t include enough back story.

    P.P.S. Please put me in for a 7-page critique. Could I include 7 pages of WW stories?

  78. Those books are coming up for Rogenna. Subscribe to her newsletter to be advised when they come out.

    That's why customized covers are the way to go. The odds of someone customizing the same way you do is nil.

    Ruth and Sandra both have customized covers.

  79. Vince
    I could work with you on book covers. I'd love to try and capture your word vision via graphics.

  80. WHOO-HOO ... I bought it, Teenster, and why on earth are you NOT telling folks it's only 99 cents!!!

    Running out to promo now ...


  81. Congrats on the new release, Tina! Love the short story angle, the cover, and your new website. :)

  82. How fun, Tina!!! What a great way to give new life to your WW stories!

    Actually, I cut my writing teeth on short stories. For the first 25 years of my career, my sales consisted entirely of short stories, articles, and devotions.

    Writing short is great training ground! You learn the importance of single POV, getting your story off to a quick start, limiting description and dialogue to what's most vital to the story, etc.

    For me, the downside of focusing on short fiction for magazines was the need to continually come up with new ideas, whereas with a novel, I can fully develop one story over six months or more. But as a "vacation" from the long, involved work of novel writing, short stories could definitely be a nice change of pace.

    Congrats again on your WW success, Tina! I always look forward to your stories!

  83. Yay, Tina! Congrats on your 10th sale to WW! That's amazing. I've never even considered writing a short to sale--until now :) You've inspired me--as always.

  84. Love the short story form and your post, Tina, with the suggestions for writing them. Picked up a copy of WW yesterday when I saw two copies in the orthopedist's office. No Tina romance in the Sept. 30th issue. Congratulations on all your successes. I'm so impressed with your collection of shorts. Only with your help have I come close to getting accepted at WW. A few of those rejected ones have been published online or accepted for print elsewhere. So to all who write or want to write for WW do as Tina suggests. Who can resist the money they pay? I have yet one more SS that could use your critical eye. Please include me in the drawing for a 7 page critique. I liked your FB page, too.

  85. OK, so my aged eyes are failing me--I could not see the small writing that said comments--Julie Lessman had to help me find it...LOL

    I would love to win your contest--I would have to do a little work on getting a couple stories for you to critique, but I would LOVE the opportunity! Your other prizes look fun too. I look forward to reading your book of short stories--I really enjoy short stories! And I am planning to play with those helps you included in this blog--great suggestions, that I find encouraging at the very beginnings of doing some writing of my own.

  86. Congrats, Tina! So happy for all your wonderful new endeavors!

    Love the covers of your books!


  87. Pat Jeanne! You are so close. Keep subbing. Your stories are wonderful. Sometimes the "R" has nothing to do with our stories, as you know.

  88. Hi, Vicki and welcome!!!

    You are in the drawing.


  89. Thanks, Sue!

    I appreciate your words on the covers. Rogenna Brewer did a great job.

  90. Pam, thank you!!

    I only aspire to your graphic design greatness.

  91. TINA!!! I've been dying to know how to write a short story!

    During October I have one I hope to pen. Now I have your awesome battle plan to attack it!

    The first and only piece of writing I've ever sold went to Woman's World. It was in the "Was My Face Red" category. Haha!

    Congrats on your 10th short story sale to Woman's World! I'm hopping over to Facebook now to like your page...

  92. And see, Natalie, I have never cracked anything but the romance.

    Another interesting thing to note is it's some easy cash to send in an essay for one of the True's many essay departments. Pay is anywhere up to 100 bucks. Or used to be. The pet feature especially. Pick up a True at your local Kroger chain.

    Not a short story, but this is cash for your writing which can pay for a contest entry.

  93. The True's essay dept. is a way to get a writing credit, Tina. Two of my essays were accepted there a long time ago. At first I was reluctant to send to them. But I saw one section called The Miracle of Faith, and I couldn't resist submitting. About 15 yrs. ago they did pay $100 for 750 words. But if I'm not mistaken they do require all rights. So in that case I was unable to sell the piece again.

  94. Yes, Jeanne. All World Rights on Trues. Which is a bummer.

  95. Hi Vince;

    Saw your comment about my soon to be release ebook One Silent Night. I love that cover, too :) Thought I'd let you know it will be available in early November, just in time for Christmas.

    I also wanted to address your concerns over "same covers." It's true ebook cover designers are searching through the same pool of stock art. Even some NY Publishers and online publishers like Entangled use stock images that get used over and over again.

    Luckily, there are tens of millions of images out there. And designers also tend put their own creative stamp on things alter images in some way--even for premade covers. I can't speak for everyone, but most designers I know do not resell the same cover design out of principle. But it's always good to check the designer's policy on the matter.

    For custom covers I often combine 2, 3 or more images to come up with the client's vision. In the case of One Silent Night, for example, I used 3 stock images. If anyone tried to copy it exactly, first of all they might have a hard time tracking down all those image, but it would also be copyright infringement.

    Designers appreciate copyright notices inside the book as much as authors do.

    Hope this helps alleviate some of your concerns.


  96. Thanks for addressing Vince's questions, Rogenna.

    I didn't even think about copyright. Duh!!

  97. Wonderful post, Tina. Congratulations on selling 10 stories to WW. I submitted four to them and all were rejected, although three made it to the EIC. I've published a dozen short stories in the confession mags. I'm on the Trues loop with you. I also sold 2 shorts to Boroughs. And I've self-published an anthology of shorts and individual shorts. I would love to sell to WW but I've given up on them. I'd love a critique from you.

    1. Gosh, Cara, congratulations. I'd love a critique from you . Let's trade. Drop me an email!!!

  98. Hi Tina:

    Your “Love in Bloom” stories are great to read between grading tests and filling orders. I’d worry about the boss catching me -- except I’m the boss.

    I do have a few questions I think others would be interested in, too.

    What makes you decide whether to use first person or third person? Do you think that WW favors one or the other? Which would you recommend to those trying to sell their first story to WW? Do you think it would be crazy to submit a short story written in Deep POV?


  99. Hi DebH:

    Do you really think you could create cover art depicting my world view?

    Here’s what it would have to look like:

    A black universe filled with billions of 3-D jigsaw puzzle pieces instead of planets galaxies, and stars. At the bottom right hand corner of the picture I would be shown building a 3-D model from those very same puzzle pieces. The model would look just like our solar system.

    The title of the book would be: “The Universe Trying to Understand Itself”.

    Seriously, are you a cover designer? Or were you making a rhetorical statement?


  100. Hi Rogeena:

    Thanks for answering my concerns.

    I’ve checked your website and I just love your work (and prices, too). I’m ready to order a cover right now so I can make the cover art my computer background screen picture as soon as possible. This way it will admonish me to get busy and finish my edits every time I turn on my computer.

    I’ll email you about this but I have a question I think others would like the answer to as well.

    The cover of Sandra Leesmith’s “Love’s Miracle” is almost perfect for my WIP “Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer”. The only thing that needs changing is there needs to be a lake in the picture, somewhat near the cabin, and the hero and heroine need to be 39 years old. The hero also has to be clean shaven. (If there were bears in the background, that would be good and I’d also like the mountains to be higher.) Well, that’s quite a few changes after all.

    Question: could you pretty much create the same cover design but make it seem quite different to anyone who just gives it a passing glance? And would it be enough different so that an author (like Sandra who I know) would not get upset about my using it?

    One More Thing: most of my works in progress are nonfiction books. These probably need cover art that is mostly graphics and not pictures of things. I did not see any of those type covers in your portfolio. How about these? Are there stock blocks, squares, and 3-d geometric shapes? I’m thinking of something very simple like the cover of GMC which my first book is modeled after.


    P.S. I didn’t see anything on either of your websites about a newsletter. Do you really have one? I’d like to subscribe.

  101. Like any editor, Vince, they just want a story that resonates with readers, so guve your deep pov a try.

    I used to write a lot of first person stories but transitioning to nivels can make it confusing, so I think that's why I write more shorts from 3rd person now.

    Good question , Vince.

  102. Novel. Not nivel. Smart phone is not smart.

  103. Hi Vince;

    If you're inspired by the layout or design of a cover, but have your own take on it and are using different images that's not stealing

    I would say the majority of stock images don't have people in them and I'm happy to do non-fiction covers. Tina has given me your email and I will be in touch shortly.

  104. VINCE
    The offer wasn't rhetorical. I'm a graphics technician and want to expand my horizons to book covers. I can see what you described in my mind. Which part of the solar system did you want partially built? *heh* I'll be starting on my own story covers, but never hurts to practice on translating other people's visions too.

  105. Rogenna, I love the work you've done for Tina and Audra.... Just beautiful stuff! What a great time to be able to use those creative and techno-savvy talents!

    DebH, I can totally see you doing this! Oh my stars, we'll talk! How much fun would that be, to work together??????

    I've been examining covers all over the place and in all honesty, they fall into some pretty standard layout categories so then the trick is to make the pics of the layout reflective... and funny or poignant or emotional or loving, etc. To set the mood....

    I have noticed that pictures are REPEATED on lots of the big stock photo sites so these folks are selling their rights to multiple sites... so that's where the possibility of overusing a 'look' or a person or a great shot comes into play. I found that interesting but it was clear to me as I went through hundreds of pages of images for my recent covers that a lot of them were repeated from site to site.

    But I know the hot designers are scheduling photo shoots to cover New Adult and Young Adult (and I hope more contemporary inspirational) so their building their libraries as demand increases.

    Great job, Tina and Rogenna! Love it!

  106. Tina, I 'liked' you and still do! Just bought Love in Bloom. Great cover.

    Thanks for showing us your trick to writing short romantic stories. I had no idea. I'm not sure I could ever write one, but who knows.

  107. Thanks, Cara!!! Good to see your smiling face.

  108. I read this blog all the time, but I rarely comment. However, this time, I am offered a those! Please include me. Anyway, I have been published twice with short stories. Not romance though. Unfortunately, I can't seem to condense a love story into the small space. Would love to do that. Eileen

  109. By the way, bought the book. Tempting to be inspired by 10 shorts. Thanks for a great article. Eileen

  110. Woot, Tina! Ten WW,that is amazing!

    I have one WW story ready to send and one rough draft. It is my project for tomorrow. Do you send a cover letter with yours?

    I have never seen True magazine. I'll add it to my grocery list.

    Love the big buy button! I'm excited about reading it! Please enter me.

  111. Hi Eileen! You are in. Congrats on your sales. Short is short.

    17 short stories in the collection actually. :) 10 from Woman's World.

  112. I always send a cover letter, Donna!!

    Good for you!!!! Don't forget that SASE~~~

  113. Well I didn't have a buy button but Vince shamed me into getting one. So I like to be a wee bit sarcastic.

  114. Donna let me clarify, the Trues are..

    True Story

    True Romance

    True Experience

    True Love..some of them have folded..not sure which.

    They do sensationalized covers..

    I Slept with My Dying Husband's Best Friend.

    Not coffee table stuff.

    But they do sweet romances as well.

    They used to be called Beauty Parlor magazines.

  115. The Trues also change your character's names. Because they are after all..TRUE. No byline.

    Lawrence Block began as a TRUE pulp fiction writer.

  116. I pushed the button and bought the book! YAY!

    Can't wait to read.

    Someday we'll say... Tina Radcliffe started out writing TRUE pulp fiction. :)

    I guess we can say that now.

  117. The one advantage to coming in late is that huge red PUSH button. That made it very easy to indulge.

    Best of luck with Love in Bloom, Tina.

    I'm off to check out the sites again. I tried to check earlier today from my iPad, but the website wouldn't let me scroll. :(

  118. Lol!! Thanks, Mary. Saved some dessert for you!!

  119. I love it all, Tina! Especially the BUY button. LOL! Your creativity knows NO BOUNDS!!

    I checked out the Plot Diagram. What a hoot! Definitely going to go back and play with that one!!

    Congrats on the book release. Of course, I mozy-ed over and bought it. You made it so simple with the BUY button...

  120. Buy button was a Vince marketing strategy! Thanks, Audra.

  121. I have submitted a few short stories to WW, always receiving a form letter rejection. The last one was never even received a rejection, so I gave up after that. Been thinking about trying it again, starting with the story that never got a response as I wonder if it get lost. ( I did include a self-addressed stamped envelope.) Will have to get up the nerve.

  122. Excellent post, Tina. Very helpful information that makes me want to abandon the book and write short stories!!

    On my way to your new site and FB page!


  123. I've had short stories published. Most were in children's magazines. Recently I got an adult one published. I tried submitting to Woemn World once and got a form rejection. (not helpful.) Recently I received a snarky rejection for my second short story to the same magazine that accepted my first one. After I got over being offended at the flippant remarks I found value in his comments. I have entered short story contest and not won. One promised critiques and once I submitted and paid the entry fee I found I had to jump through a lot of hoops before they would even bother critiquing my work. My published short stories have all been under 1000 words. I have a few longer pieces. I would love to perfect my technique so I can put together an anthology. I love reading short stories and would love recommendations for good anthologies. Also, what magazines are out there that accept short stories? I only know of a few.

  124. For sure, Walt, if you don't get a response, resubmit. RESUBMIT. It got lost in that big BAUER PUBLISHING MAIL ROOM!!!

  125. Thanks, so much, Edwina. And great to see you!


    I'd join the True Writers and Woman's World yahoo groups. They often post other short story venues.

    We often mention short story contests in our contest update that comes out MONTHLY. check back tomorrow for our October Contest Update. Hope that helps.

  127. Thanks for sharing the secret to your success, Tina! This post is going into my Seekerville notebook. I've submitted 3 stories to Woman's World. I got a rejection on one. I've been waiting for several months on the other two. I ordered Love in Bloom yesterday. I can't wait to read them this weekend. I love your style! I would love the opportunity for a critique.

  128. Tina, congratulations on your 10th sale to WW. That’s awesome!

    I know how difficult that is since I have 15-20 rejections—mostly romance but a few mini mysteries also. My critique partners do well in mystery for WW, but not romance. Maybe I’m a better editor than writer. Who knows? Almost all my stories made it to Johnene, but I rarely get many comments. I did get a “Nicely written though” on one.

    I’ve loved reading all your WW stories. I have a subscription. When I see your name I know I will get an exceptional read. I just purchase “Love in Bloom.” Can’t wait start reading all your stories.

    Thanks for this blog topic. I’d love to be put in for the critique if it’s not too late. I’m on digest so I just go the e-mail.

    Pat Marinelli

  129. You are in, Pat!!! Thanks for all your very kind words. I am blushing.

  130. Jill, I was hoping you would stop by as I know how hard you have been working at this craft!!! Thanks, my short story pal!

  131. I'm a little late to the party but I'm here! Congrats on your 10th WW sale. I've submitted to them but never sold. I have sold about 45 stories to True Confessions, True Romance, et cetera. They're at least 5 times longer than WW so I think they're far easier to write since you have wiggle room. It's tough to tell a story in so few words. My hat's off to you for doing it so successfully so many times!

  132. And MY HAT And attractive scarf are off to you, buddy Marilyn for all those sales to the TRUES!!!!

  133. I read your story in WW today! It was so sweet! Loved it. And there was a certain feeling to it that grabbed me with the first couple lines. Now I want to read it again! Lol.

  134. Thanks so much, Natalie!!!!

    The heroine in the second story in my Bloom collection is Natalie, btw.

  135. Thank you, Tina, for all the tips. It couldn't have come at a better time. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to reading it until just now - I was busy trying to write a short story to submit to WW :) I did read it in time to use your tips to refine my story. Sure wish I'd read it in time to win a critique. I'm always unsure about word count. Is 1000 words the norm? Can it vary a bit and how much? If you have time to answer, I'd appreciate it. either way, you've really helped met! hanks, Leona

  136. Tina, I'm way late on this great post! I was out of town when you put it up so missed it.

    Great info!! I'm LOVING your new short stories. Y'all be sure to push that button! :)