Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Threads West, an American Saga - Interview, Part 3

Eve Paludan: Welcome back, Reid Rosenthal, author of Threads West, for part 3, the final part of this interview. It’s all about passion, of the people and of land and country. First off, how does a male author write so well about love and sex from the women characters’ point of view?

Reid Rosenthal: Ahhhh…inquisitive minds want to know?

Eve Paludan: A lot of readers have asked about this aspect of your writing.

Reid Rosenthal: I am chuckling. Would you believe I am in touch with my feminine side? Truth be known, there are portions of the female voice I think I handle well, but there are segments of the female psyche that I truly believe no man fully understands. It helps that I have spent a good deal of time with (for the most part) some truly exceptional gals during my life. I have learned from them.

I have been a rapt observer of mannerisms, thought processes—well, at least a portion of “female think”—and I have watched many women, from all walks of life and completely disparate backgrounds react to both the mundane and the serious—be it passion or pathos within their own lives and their interactions with others.

Eve Paludan: So, I suppose it’s no stretch of the truth to say that you are something of a student of Mars versus Venus?

Reid Rosenthal: I do find the differences between the genders fascinating. I spent a great deal of time writing certain sections of Threads West to ensure real and true interaction among the ladies themselves, and with the male characters.

Eve Paludan: You do it well. I keep going back to read the romantic interludes. They’re poignant and moving.

Reid Rosenthal: Ah, the steamy heat of passions, the red glow of touch, the wonder of magnetic attraction are all things I—and I believe all of us—have experienced. Those always mystical experiences are the basis for the sensuality of certain moments in the book.

Eve Paludan: Was it difficult to write in your female characters’ voices?

Reid Rosenthal: Not really, though I struggled with a few scenes in which the female reaction, both internal and external, probably could never be fully understood by a male. In those cases, I would turn for guidance to my great editor, Page Lambert.

Eve Paludan: Is that Page Lambert, the author of Shifting Stars?

Reid Rosenthal: Among many other books, including fiction, nonfiction, short stories, you name it.

Eve Paludan: So what do you and Page talk about?

Reid Rosenthal: The conversation in those instances was invariably something like this: “So, do you think that is realistic?” I would query. “No” would be Page’s response. A protracted silence would follow.

Then I’d continue, “Okay—why would she not have reacted that way? That’s exactly what my reaction would have been if I was her, based on her personality.”

Page’s reply: “You can’t be her. You are not a her. Draw on your experience, metamorphose into the state of being of the other, and then write the scene again.”

And with that, I would start over, trying to put myself in the mind and heart of a woman in a particular situation, drawing deep into the energies around me to ferret and sift out the essence, the true essence of thought, emotion and action of a lady in such a setting. Sometimes I play-acted, unilaterally acting a dialogue and a scene down to props.

Eve Paludan: That sounds like a great way to connect with your characters. The women felt genuine to me.

Reid Rosenthal: I am pleased you thought the female voices rich, non-stereotypical, and believable, whether in joy or dangerous adversity from a female reader’s perspective.

Eve Paludan: Readers want to know: In Threads West, which one of the men characters is you?

Reid Rosenthal: I am laughing. There have been scores of folks—no, make that hundreds—who have earnestly inquired as to which character I am, or most resemble. They usually await my answer with a slight forward lean and intent stare. I am none of them. I am all of them. We are all a part of them and they of us.

Eve Paludan: It is true about readers connecting with the characters in the book, relating to their passion and their pain.

Reid Rosenthal: That each reader and the author can identify with traits, actions, thoughts and feelings of the personalities of Threads West might be why I find readers truly care for and about these characters.

Eve Paludan: I do care about them. I wonder why they did this or that, when they could have done things differently.

Reid Rosenthal: We cluck disapprovingly when they make poor or disappointing decisions, scream warnings as they head obliviously into danger, shake our heads when they miss their cues in personal interactions—particularly with the opposite sex—tremble as they encounter adversity, and cheer when they exhibit courage.

We feel their passions, palpably sense their yearnings, and identify with the turmoil of their inner conflicts—In Rebecca, Sarah, Reuben, Johannes, Zeb, and Inga, we see ourselves, perhaps in some more than others depending upon the reader. But there is undeniably an empathy, that mirror and portal, time and energy warp that we spoke of earlier. We truly care about them and for them. And this interest extends even to Jacob, though that may be more of a wish to see justice served.

Eve Paludan: The characters are passionate, not just about each other, but also about the land.

Reid Rosenthal: Some begin that way, others will learn. The land is the source of energies, and the creator of moods. It is the mystical stage that shapes the personalities, ambitions, duplicities, and triumphs of the players who line dance fleetingly upon it until retired by the shoulder taps of successive generations. It can be the catalyst of enmity, greed and conflict, and is always the backdrop of love, passion, lust and personal interaction. The Land is all this, and more.

Eve Paludan: You paint such a seductive land, as well as its people.

Reid Rosenthal: I will borrow a paragraph from the inside back cover of the book: If the mind and spirit are seduced by images of windswept ridge tops, shiny flutters of aspen leaves caressed by a canyon breeze, and crimson tendrils of dying sun...if the fingers feel the silken skin pulse of a lover and the lips taste the deep hot kisses of building passion... If nostrils flare with the conjured scents of gunpowder and perfume, sagebrush and pine, and the ears delight in the murmur of river current...if the heart pounds with anticipation of the outcome in the realistic clash of good and evil...if the gut boils with care about the lives, conflicts and interaction of the characters...and if the head nods with understanding at the authenticity of the scenes and personalities, then as a fiction author, I have accomplished my mission.

Eve Paludan: That’s the kind of imagery that makes your novel breathtaking.

Reid Rosenthal: I appreciate that thought, Eve, thanks!

Eve Paludan: I think when readers finish a book and feel like it was true, that speaks of the author’s talent for realism, especially in relationships. The male characters in Threads West are just so appealing.

Reid Rosenthal:  I'm not surprised that you found the male characters sexy, each in his own way. Not that I concur, but I am flattered that some readers insist on parallels between my masculinity, or their perception of it, and the magnetism they feel toward or from the men in the novel. I have been told much the same by male readers relative to the females that populate the pages of the book. It would be difficult indeed to have a romantic adventure—or is that an adventurous romance?—without sex appeal!

Eve Paludan: Very few male authors can pull off a romance, but you did it with finesse and, dare I say, with heart?

Reid Rosenthal: Romance is the universal language, and in my personal opinion, it’s the interpersonal energy that most resembles the energy of land. Perhaps that is why stories that mingle those two very primal forces, which are essential parts of us all, resonate to some deep and meaningful inner core of our beings.

Eve Paludan: That’s beautiful. If I could take away one thing from your book and inject it into my own work, it would be the indefinable but real energy that surrounds these characters and their physical settings.

Reid Rosenthal: It is all energy! Steamy, exciting, absorbing insight into the real American West, and the life threads of these driven men and feisty women—the vanguard of generations who braved the unknown, and shaped the heart of a great nation! This is our story.

Eve Paludan: You had me at “This is our story.”

Reid Rosenthal: As it should be.

Eve Paludan: I know that you love to hunt and fish and ride. I know you'll also jump in a bush plane to go see the aurora borealis or ride miles on horseback to get a photo of a rainbow. Can you share one or two of your exciting outdoor adventures that inspired a scene in Threads West?

Reid Rosenthal: Life is an adventure. It is to be lived. My grandfather once told me that we all have a million miles to burn and we can burn them fast or slow. I don't plan on sliding into home plate with a clean uniform. It is the quality of the experience—although when speaking of places wild and remote, qualitative aspects range from good to great. Sometimes one must travel far to find the truly special. Generally speaking, those are places without people and the seldom if ever seen human footprint. It is locations where the only lights in a never-ending expanse of black night are stars peeking over ridge tops. I suppose some would say it’s adventure, but to me it’s just life.

Eve Paludan: I heard a rumor that some people in high places are interested in your Threads West series for its many messages of love, hope, and struggles for the American dream, which is to own land of their own. How is the Threads West novel series a backbone or inspiration in that regard?

While I hope that this novel will capture the hearts of female romance lovers, and ignite the macho adventure streak in the men who read the book, in macro context I want this story and the entire Threads West, An American Saga series to remind people of our origin, of the fire and struggle that have shaped our American spirit. Perhaps it is that recall that will help rekindle the fervor of pride, hope, and the can-do, can-overcome attitude that has been—and can be again—the marrow of America.

Eve Paludan: Thank you, Reid Lance Rosenthal, for this amazing interview series.

Reid Rosenthal: The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for the interview and for the book review. And thanks so much to Jodie Renner for allowing us space for this guest blog.

Readers, October 12th, TODAY is the book launch! Threads West will be available for the first time in print on Amazon.com. Other outlets will carry the novel as well, over the coming months. However, this is the very limited first printing, just 4,500 copies, and as of this interview, it appears that more than half have already been reserved. So, folks should go to: http://www.threadswestamericansaga.com/

Monday, October 11, 2010

Interview of Reid Rosenthal, author of Threads West - Part Two

Eve Paludan: Reid Rosenthal, author of Threads West, welcome back to Jodie Renner's blog for part two of this interview! I’m sure readers want to know more about the creation of the Threads West series and about your life as a fourth-generation land and cattle owner. Can you tell us more about who you are and what you do?

Reid Rosenthal: In the simplest terms, Eve, I am just me. As with all others who share this planet, I have my shining, and less illustrious sides. I am a type Triple-A personality and with that comes both the good and less than good, inherent to those who suffer the same 24-7 demeanor. Yes, I am driven. I believe dreams are but the precursors of reality. One has only to make them so.

But I love the land, its special energy, solitude, space, and soul succor. Alone and far from others, whispers of canyon breezes playin’ oh so gentle’cross my cheek, the smell of earth, sage, leaves and horse sweat might just be the only time I truly relax. It is those moments, high atop a windswept ridge, rifle nestled in the leather of the scabbard, that I am transported to ten thousand years ago where I am a native sojourner, clad in a hide loincloth and carrying a spear in quest of fresh meat for the clan. It is cleansing, and real, this time machine of earth energy. The hum of it brings me back full circle to my very roots as a human being. These are the feelings of which I write, and they are universal in their truth of any historical era, though less realized today than at any other time in man's history.

Eve Paludan: That kind of vision into the past is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing what makes you tick. Could you talk more about living off the land, as our pioneers did and how that translates into modern-day conservation?

Reid Rosenthal: He who lives on the land, lives off the land, and he who calls the land his home is by definition a steward of that little piece of the planet. The conservation and enhancement of resources is fundamental to good stewardship. Love the land and it will love you back. I strive in my fiction writing to first pen a great story, a page-turner that is both a mirror and a portal.

Eve Paludan: I love that! What a visualization with seeing messages from the past and then they reflect on the present.

Reid Rosenthal: Yes, there are messages in my writing, subtle and subliminal in some respects, but those manifestations of my core principles are in there. And respect for the land and property as the foundation of America, her spirit, the aspirations of her generations, and as the symbol of our individual freedom is more than a whisper in Threads West, and all the successive books of the series.

Eve Paludan: It makes me think about where we came from, as a country. As well as where we’re going.

Reid Rosenthal: It’s time we returned to our roots. I hope Threads West, while it entertains and captivates readers, imparts that sense of “back to American basics” using the land, and the characters’ interaction on and about the land as the touchstone of that reminder.

Eve Paludan: In part one of this interview, you talked a little bit about your research. How much of that came from your family’s roots?

Reid Rosenthal: Much of the vine of fiction in the series is based on seeds of fact. For instance, my father is from Germany, in fact from a cattle operation on the Lahn River in the little village of Villmar. My mother’s family hailed from England, centuries ago. My grandfather’s name was indeed Ludwig, and on my grandmother’s side, her brother was Hermann.

Because I am wed to and intrigued by both the challenge and the unique reward of writing in the style of converging threads, the lives, loves, struggles, and exhilarating triumphs of the 38 primary characters who people the four generations of the series are destined to always be interwoven by the loom of the land and fabric of time. The old cliché— “six degrees of separation”—might well be said to be the platform of converging threads of lives in fiction styles like my own.

Eve Paludan: Humanity is really a web of people, and we are all interconnected. I like the way the characters in your book meet each other and develop relationships. That must have been difficult to decide who connects and how their stories interconnect in the big picture.

Reid Rosenthal: The daunting challenge is to provide a seamless plot, realistic motivation, emotion, imagery and setting, and believable convergence and re-convergence of the threads of personalities over time and distance.

Eve Paludan: May I say that I love how you accomplished all of this so well. The characters are all individuals and they have their own quests and life paths.

Reid Rosenthal: I tried to create an epic tale of unforgettable characters whose personalities are forged over generations on the land’s anvil—fused by an emerging nation, imbued with the romance of America, her spirit, her people and the West. To the extent that I have succeeded thus far, I owe the great writers before me—and all of my great team—a humble thanks.

Eve Paludan: The result of such great team support is a book that transcends the genre of historical Western romance and goes beyond fiction to affect readers in their real lives.

Reid Rosenthal: Threads West, An American Saga is meant to be far more than the tale of the characters. I hope readers realize that Threads West is, in truth, our collective story.

Eve Paludan: Could you tell me more about your author inspirations?

Reid Rosenthal: We spoke at some length in the first part of the interview about which authors have inspired my writing. I would add that it is an honor and a privilege to even be mentioned in the same sentence as these legendary storytellers. To be asked to discuss which of their works most influenced me is merely a tribute to them, these silent mentors who never met me, did not know I exist, and most likely—those who are still alive—rightfully have no clue as to "Reid Who?" 

Eve Paludan: I think that very soon, people are going to stop saying "Reid Who?" and your name will be recognizable to readers around the world. When did you start reading those Westerns?

Reid Rosenthal: I read many of those books for the first time of a dozen re-readings in elementary school. Many is the night I would huddle under the blankets—dim light of the flashlight I had snatched from the kitchen tool bag—fading and flickering as morning approached. I eagerly turned pages of the books, once in a while poking my head out to study the approaching light from the East, filled with youthful resentment that my reading time was coming to an end for another night. It was that time, around the age of nine, in fact, that I vowed to myself that, I, too would write novels, spin stories, furrow the brows of readers with empathy for the characters, and transport them into the arc of the tale.

Eve Paludan: What were some of those titles that kept you up all night?

Reid Rosenthal: Mila 18, Exodus, Battle Cry, and The Young Lions by Leon Uris. The Old Man and the Sea, and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. These would be the works that I draw upon stylistically and, in different ways. I have read each and every one of Louis L'Amour's Westerns; I have his entire collection. So, too, I devoured Larry McMurtry's stunning Lonesome Dove and Max McCoy's two Spur award winners, one of which is Hellfire Canyon. Each book has contributed to my own craft of words and story, style and structure, some—like Uris and Hemingway—more than others.

Eve Paludan: This is a great tip for writers that they don’t spend all of their time writing, but must also read to be immersed in the styles and plotlines of the great writers.

Reid Rosenthal: I muse at times about this tremendous gift these men have given me without ever knowing it. I wonder if—should I be so lucky as to enjoy even a modicum of their great and well-deserved success—if readers of Threads West will read this book and make promises to themselves about writing their own books. I surely hope that kind of energy springs from my novels. And so, threads will once again converge. There is a symmetry to it all that appeals to me. Writers inspire each other. No doubt about it!

Eve Paludan: They do! I know you work from many outlines, so that you can keep control of the plot elements. Do you ever deviate from your outlines when you get inspired to go in a different direction? And if so, how do you retool your characters and plotline on the fly so that you don't get off on a tangent and lose track of your goal for the chapter?

Reid Rosenthal: I don't write detailed outlines. I have been writing these books in my head for decades. My outlines are rarely more than three pages for a book. And, yes, as the characters tell me their stories, like the simple scribe I am, I merely write it. They rely on me only to portray the setting, to create the stage of mood that flows from scene. I follow their dictates in the twists and turns of the storyline, which remains true always to the basic center of the yarn, but will absolutely deviate in delightful, frightful, and deliciously unanticipated ways, just as life does.

Eve Paludan: Thank you for those insights. I wanted to ask a technical question. You're the only author I know who uses Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software to dictate your story aloud. How did you come to start using it? How has this technology helped your writing?

Reid Rosenthal: I'm laughing. Truth be known, I dictate because I can't type. Actually I can type about 150 words per minute. Unfortunately, that includes 10 typos (at least) per line. I am also not a big fan of spell check. It is the big paw, little keyboard syndrome. Also, I spend so much time traveling between ranches, or in locations without power, that recording thoughts for later use became a necessity in my teens. The prehistoric full-size cassette recorders of the 70s were quite something. Good ones were the size of small briefcase. Then along came the micro-cassette recorders. If I was in heaven then, the current digital technology is pure nirvana.

In the “old” days—up to two years ago, I would dictate and give tapes to my staff to transcribe them. With the voice recognition systems, this step is eliminated. I dictate, the software types (what a pleasure!), I print the hard copy, fax the first edits to them shortly after, and poof! —we have a draft! I think this system works well for me because I am so used to “writing and composing” via speech over almost forty years. I can express myself in a stream of consciousness, almost like real conversation, albeit a unilateral discussion of characters. Other than edits, and perhaps twenty pages of the book, Threads West was entirely written using this system. Matter of fact, more than half the book was written while guiding the one-ton truck through the beautiful wild and remote stretches of the West that lie between our ranches! I must admit to occasional breaks in the machine scribed drafts that exclaimed, “Oh, damn, was that a cop?” or “Hey, how about using a blinker, you moron!”

Eve Paludan: That’s pretty funny! And what a unique way of writing a book, in your truck while driving while your laptop types what you say! How’s that for irony? Using twenty-first century technology to write about nineteenth-century stories.

Reid Rosenthal: It is a delicious and fascinating irony.

Eve Paludan: Thanks for Part 2 of this interview, Reid. Readers, stay tuned, because the next part of the interview is going to rock and roll like Reid on the back of a Brahma bull chargin’ out of the chute.

Reid Rosenthal: That’s right, Eve. Part three of this interview is going to be all adrenaline and passion.

Eve Paludan: Can readers still reserve books before tomorrow’s big release?

Reid Rosenthal: Yes ma’am! We have a few left but not many! Threads West will be available for the first time in print on October 12 on Amazon.com. Other outlets will carry the novel as well, but Amazon is exclusive for the first printing release. Just 4,500 copies, and as of this second part of the interview, it appears that almost two-thirds have already been reserved. So, folks should go to: http://www.threadswestamericansaga.com/

Eve Paludan: I heard you’re throwing a “Branding Party” for the book launch.

Reid Rosenthal: There’s going to be lots of fun stuff, reviews, photos, excerpts, and some great ranch theme contests good only on October 12. There is an easy reserve-the-book system and then, on Tuesday, October 12, the link on that site will whisk readers to the Threads West page on Amazon.com to purchase the books (or books with Christmas coming up). Yes, I am excited :-)



Note from Jodie: See Eve's Oct. 5 guest blog below for her review of Reid's book.

The All-Important First Chapter

Here's an excellent article on writing a compelling first chapter that also gives the reader a good idea of what to expect as far as your genre, style and content - a chapter that's a promise of what's to come.

This article, by Valerie Kemp, appears today on the blog of Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent. Check it out at: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Interview of Reid Rosenthal, author of Threads West

Interview of Reid Rosenthal: Part 1 (A Guest Blog by Eve Paludan) 

Eve Paludan: Reid Lance Rosenthal, author of Threads West, welcome to Jodie Renner's blog! I'm here as a guest on Jodie's blog today and I'm so excited to have you join me for this interview. I'm really excited about learning inside information about the creation of your Threads West series and about your life as a fourth-generation land and cattle owner.

Reid Rosenthal: Howdy! I’ll be glad to fill you in on who I am and what I do. And since this is a writing and editing blog, I’ll focus on aspects of the creative writing process, so long as everyone understands that this is all the view of a neophyte. I am under no illusions! I’m still at the point when folks say, “Reid who???”

Eve Paludan: Thanks! It's great to learn new things about you. I tumbled on your pages on Facebook quite by chance. Your breathtaking photos of rainbows caught my attention. From there, I bought and read your short story on my Amazon Kindle, and then—intrigued—I decided to buy and read your Threads West ebook. And then, I loved it so much that I reviewed it!

Reid Rosenthal: That was a wonderful review, and I was surprised that you reviewed Threads West.

Eve Paludan: As a two-time #1 national best selling author (Writer’s Digest Book Club), a publisher, and an editor, I sometimes give national reviews, but I don't warn the author! I was so swept away by Threads West. It’s one of those rare reviews that I couldn’t wait to write.

Reid Rosenthal: Thank you very much, Eve. I’m truly tickled you enjoyed reading it.

Eve Paludan: I sure did. However, it was your photography that first caught my attention. You've captured some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen of the American West, from land to skies and rustic buildings to horses but especially those rainbows; they were just magical. I wondered, how does your professional outdoor photography influence your fiction writing?

Reid Rosenthal: A perceptive query, Eve. In fact, they’re inextricably intertwined. I'm a landscape photographer. I’ve always been enamored and enthralled with the moods of land and environment, and the palpable energy of the Earth. It is, in my opinion, the root and source of all things, including the lives and struggles of the people who fleetingly line dance upon its stage until tapped on the shoulder by successive generations.

Eve Paludan: You do have such a way with words. So, the rainbows inspire you?

Reid Rosenthal: When a moment speaks to me...that peculiar angle of the sun, bursting sky prisms following a rain, shadows creeping with the angle of the waning sun, I must say I’m compelled to capture the image in every way possible. Many times, due simply to the wild and remote places where I spend many of my waking hours—the sheer right-time, right-place luck—I’ve been fortunate to record the power of scenes so vivid as to be mesmerizing. The thrill of knowing that I have recorded a split second that is never, ever, to be repeated as to the angle, time, season, event, or light, makes it all doubly exciting and satisfying. It is these scenes captured on photo frames, and those never-to-be repeated moments like them that underpin the descriptive portion of my writing. When I write to a mood, to a setting—a snapshot of the earth—it’s all there in a picture, somewhere deep in my soul. The pen becomes merely the shutter, and the paper the film.

Eve Paludan: That is truly inspiring. From the very first page of Threads West, I was completely hooked. Most writers have "first-page panic" trying to decide where to start a novel. From all of the places to start your story, how did you choose this sexy opening love scene to grab your reader's attention?

Reid Rosenthal: Ahhhh! Romance is a wonderful thing...primal like the land, and universal in its appeal and life experience. What better way to start a great story? If the truth be known, one of the few things I did struggle with in writing this first book of the six-novel Threads West, An American Saga series is which chapter to begin the story.

Eve Paludan: I noticed your unique writing style. Could you talk about that?

Reid Rosenthal: Because I write in the rarely used style called converging threads, any one of the first eight chapters, one on each of the primary characters in book, could have been the lead off. I vacillated between the stories of Reuben, Inga, Zeb, and Rebecca. But in the end, I chose Johannes because in many ways he has the traits of virtually all of the characters.

Eve Paludan: Johannes is my very favorite character in Threads West. But I guess that’s no surprise, since romance is my favorite genre and he’s a classic historical romance hero.

Reid Rosenthal: He's a rogue all right, and undoubtedly has more than his fair share of courage, a great sense of humor, and irreverence towards himself and life. He is a ladies’ man, treadin’ life's water, beset by inner conflict, about to be swept—unknown to him—to a far-off frontier by the mysterious currents of fate. So, while the opening scene most definitely catches people’s attention, the choice of Johannes was more, much more than that. Although it could be argued that he’s not really the main male character, he single-handedly sets the tone for the adventure, the times, theme, and the passions of Threads West.

Eve Paludan: I would agree with that. His character is strong and solid and does set a precedent—and a high bar—for the rest of the book. That first-chapter advice is so helpful to other writers. Thank you for sharing it. Now, I know you have interests in a lot of ranches and are heavily into conservation of natural resources. You've even created bodies of water where none previously existed in order to enrich the land. How do your conservation activities in real life affect what your characters do in the novels?

Reid Rosenthal: Life is half-art, half-science. Emotions mix with empirical experience and knowledge. The energy input and output of the spirit and from all things animate and inanimate blends with the progression of the mind. I guess that’s why the influences on my writing all flow from the land, and personal interaction with real personalities I have known—you might call that the science portion of my wordsmithing. The art ingredient, or presentation, is borne of many influences.

Eve Paludan: The land, in and of itself, almost stands as a character in your book. Can you tell me more about the land and the people who love it?

Reid Rosenthal: The weave of Western relationships is always the land. The intertwined twists of ranch and romance are fascinating threads that define the men and women of the West. The foundation of my stories is that reality. There is intrigue, adversity, vicious duplicity, and triumph that few know of, but which are always at play beneath the idyllic mosaics of inviting canyons and sun drenched plains.

Eve Paludan: You speak as beautifully as you write. Could you please tell me about your favorite authors?

Reid Rosenthal: I’ve been influenced by many great authors. Crane, and Hemingway, whose detailed description of scenes and circumstances have always enthralled me, Uris (whose brilliant themes of converging threads of lives have had major affect on my presentation in my novels), and McMurtry, L'Amour, and Max McCoy.

Eve Paludan: Max McCoy?

Reid Rosenthal: Yes, particularly as to McCoy’s dazzling, principled dedication to historical context. Along the way, I have been blessed to have great teachers and mentors, too many to mention here, save one: Thank you to Mrs. Jane Karsten, my independent study creative writing teacher in my junior and senior high school years. It is she who whispered incessantly in my ear, sometimes kindly, at others more cajoling: "You can do this...you must do this…It is your calling."

Eve Paludan: What a profound experience with your writing teacher. I have a great teacher story, too. Someday I’ll tell it. You've said that authors should write what they know and you revealed that many of the events in your novel are true. You must be quite a fan of genealogy and a history lover.

Reid Rosenthal: I am!

Eve Paludan: As you did your research, what aspects of the history were a surprise to you when they unfolded on the page?

Reid Rosenthal: Did I research this! It was a bigger task than I anticipated. Though I thought I was familiar with this magical moment in American history, I was mistaken. 1855 may be one of the single most difficult years of which to write in the history of this country and the West that I have experienced. The great westward migration was in its infancy. The later turmoil between the Northern and Southern states was just beginning to darken the whispered rhetoric of both sides. Native Americans had rightfully lost trust in the promises of the white men. The Indian Treaties of the years prior, and indeed the compacts between the states as to abolition, had all been broken by one or the other party just within the previous twelve to twenty-four months. So this was the year just prior to the discovery of gold in Colorado, the real precipitator of the tidal wave of westward migration that began in 1858.

The Singer sewing machine had just been invented, revolvers were only a few years old, and the repeating rifle was still just a few years out. It was the year that the world—and America—breathed in, held their collective breath, and readied to exhale with a rush towards the Great Plains and Rockies.

Eve Paludan: That’s some very detailed and rich research. I hope you had help!

Reid Rosenthal: I was assisted by several researchers, to whom I gave very specific tasks. They are acknowledged as to their contributions in the enhanced ebook under “Additional Acknowledgments.”

Eve Paludan: And did you also use the web and libraries?

Reid Rosenthal: Most definitely. I drew on scores of printed and web sources, and several great nonfiction and memoir historical works of that very specific time period. It was fascinating and immensely rewarding, and I hope this research affords the historical texture of Threads West at a macro level the depth, detail, and scope not typically found in historical Western novels.

Eve Paludan: It most definitely does. I can tell by the book that you found that era fascinating.

Reid Rosenthal: Truly! It was a time of both promise and fear, and the beginnings of the second great European immigration, a critical timeframe just prior to the switch of reels in the living movie of American history; Reel one, the East. Reel two, the West.

Eve Paludan: That is a great way to put it! And with that, I’m going to invite readers to stay tuned for Reel Two of this interview, which will be continued on Jodie Renner’s blog very soon! In the meantime, how can readers get a copy of your first printing?

Reid Rosenthal: I’m absolutely delighted that Threads West will be available for the first time in print on October 12 on Amazon.com. Other outlets will carry the novel as well, over the coming months. However, this is the very limited first printing, just 4,500 copies, and as of this interview, it appears that almost half has already been reserved. So, folks should go to: http://www.threadswestamericansaga.com/

Eve Paludan: I heard you’re throwing a “Branding Party” for the book launch. Can you tell us about that?

Reid Rosenthal: There’s going to be lots of fun stuff, reviews, photos, excerpts, and some great ranch theme contests good only on October 12. There is an easy reserve-the-book system—though not mandatory at all—and then, on Tuesday, October 12, the link on that site will whisk readers to the Threads West page on Amazon.com to purchase the books (or books with Christmas coming up). Yes, I am excited :-)



Note from Jodie: See Eve's Oct. 5 guest blog below for her review of Reid's book.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why You Still Don't Have an Agent

Here's a great website: http://www.howtowriteaqueryletter.com/. Excellent articles of interest to aspiring authors of fiction, by Jeff Rivera of Gumbo Writers - http://www.gumbowriters.com/.

The two most recent, very useful articles: "Genres Agents Are Dying For" and "Why You Still Don't Have an Agent."

Checklist from Publisher

Great checklist for fiction writers on Blood-Red Pencil today: http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2010/10/publisher-evalutions.html

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review of Book One of a new Western Saga

Here's author and editor Eve Paludan’s review of Threads West - An American Saga, by Reid L. Rosenthal:

The last time I fell madly in love with a Western historical saga, the title was Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; it won a Pulitzer in 1986. The splendor and adventure of Threads West…An American Saga, Novel One, has now surpassed my long-ago love affair with McMurtry’s Western saga. Reid L. Rosenthal, cowboy and rancher, has written a novel that spirited me away to the 1850s–1860s era and provided me with gripping hours of authentic Western history, action, drama, heartfelt romance and something extra special and seldom seen in literature of this caliber: well-written, sizzling sensuality.

What separates a good novel from a great one? I close a good novel and feel satisfied. When I close a great novel, like this one, I feel sad that there are no more pages to read. From the first time each character appears in the book to the last time they fade from the pages, I was immersed in the personal stories of the heroes, the heroines, the bad guys, the powerful, the vulnerable, and the brave. I cared about their lives and loves, strengths and weaknesses, and their strife and successes. As they head for their compelling shared and undiscovered destinies, their paths unfurl like a Western sunrise in this new saga of the American West.

The Threads West series opens with a bang and closes with a promise of more excitement to come. The story of these enduring characters is destined to stamp its imprint on the spirit and heritage of readers' hearts.

The writing is incredible. I'll leave you with this small taste from Reid Lance Rosenthal’s pen: “Dawn on the day of departure was a brilliant palette of indigo in retreat to the west and blossoming fire orange to the east. The Mississippi had a slight chop from the morning wind, the surface ripples reflecting the burgeoning day in a shimmer of color.”

Five stars are not enough. One book is not enough. Let there be more Threads West. Soon!

~ Eve Paludan was twice a #1 Writer’s Digest Book Club national bestselling author of The Romance Writer's Pink Pages, a three-book series from Prima. Paludan is also an editor of scholarly work at a state university, as well as a freelance fiction editor, e-publisher at NoTreeBooks.com, and a book reviewer. She is also the author of the novel, Letters from David and the novel manuscript, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, which is currently under serious consideration by a print publisher and a top literary agent. (Blog owner and freelance editor Jodie Renner edited the first draft of The Man Who Fell from the Sky.)

Stay tuned here for more info on this fascinating book. To reserve a copy of the book now for purchase on Oct. 12, Ilimited first printing), go to http://www.threadswestamericansaga.com/

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Blood-Red Pencil: Tips For Writing Effective Dialogue

The Blood-Red Pencil: Tips For Writing Effective Dialogue


Romance novels outsell all other genres, making up about 40% of all fiction sold in North America. If you’re an aspiring writer trying to break into the romance genre, here are some tips to help get you on the road to publication.

1. Know the genre. Romance has its own set of rules. If you’re writing a romance, your plot has to revolve around the romantic relationship between your two main characters: a likeable heroine and a strong, charismatic hero; you need a happily-ever-after (HEA) ending; and your subplots must support the central love story.

2. Familiarize yourself with the market. Read a lot of recently published romance novels in a series, category, or subgenre you’d like to write; for example, contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, sweet romance, inspirational romance, paranormal romance, erotic romance, Western romance, romantic comedy, or young adult romance.

3. Read the publishers' submission guidelines. Check Harlequin’s guidelines for writers of romance at www.eHarlequin.com, as well as those of other publishers who specialize in or accept romance novels. You can do a Google search to find them. For example, here's where you'll find the guidelines from Carina Press: http://carinapress.com/blog/submission-guidelines/#romance.

4. Join a writers’ group, either local or online, such as the Romance Writers of America, or your local chapter of the RWA.

5. Read some good books about writing romance. Two books I highly recommend are: On Writing Romance, by Leigh Michaels, and The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel, by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. For more books on the craft of writing romance, see my list of resources below.

6. Know your readership. More than 90 percent of regular readers of romance novels are women. Figure out a subgenre you’d be comfortable writing in that appeals to a target group of mostly women.

7. Develop two interesting main characters. Your protagonists need to be charismatic and appealing; likeable but with some insecurities and flaws. Don’t make them too perfect – perfect is boring! The hero and heroine need to have inner conflicts and insecurities, etc., but don’t give them major character flaws or annoying habits that will turn off your reader. And make sure they’re both worthy of the other’s love. They both need to have enough going for them (not needy or users or whiners, etc.) and be basically good inside and “keepers,” otherwise your reader won’t root for them or care what happens to them.

8. Bring them together quickly. Introduce your heroine in the first paragraph. Put her in a scene with inner conflict. Introduce your hero before the end of Chapter One. Make them attracted to each other, but put a roadblock in their way. As Dawn Arkin says in her article “Romance 101” on Fiction Factor, “The main characters should meet as soon as possible and find themselves in conflict with each other right off the bat. Their first meeting should be explosive emotionally. It should make them be attracted to, and hate, each other from the beginning.”

9. Make something interesting happen to them, with plenty of inner conflict. Your storyline should have some original elements, and must of course include plenty of conflict that is emotional and character-driven. A good villain helps with that essential conflict. But remember that, unlike action-adventure or suspense novels, which rely heavily on external conflict, internal conflict is the main focus for romances. Two or three conflicts over the span of the novel work best. Include emotional highs and lows.

10. Tell us how they're feeling. Romance novels need emotion, and lots of it. “Emotion,” stresses McGregor. “Don’t back away from it, because these stories need it. To me, romances are character stories. They may have a complex plot, but it's the characters the readers want to love and get involved with.”

11. Include natural-sounding dialogue. Each character should use slightly different pet words and phrases. To guard against your dialogue sounding stilted, use lots of contractions, incomplete sentences, one-word answers, silences, and body language. Women tend to speak in more complete sentences than men do, and they express their feelings more.

12. Bring them together at the end. The romance genre calls for a Happily Ever After ending. Your readers demand an emotionally satisfying conclusion – not necessarily wedding bells, but a positive, uplifting ending with a promise of lasting love and happiness.

13. Revise, revise, revise! Now that you've written your first draft, time to go in and polish it up. Tighten up the language, use all senses, deepen your characters, and add some more conflict and intrigue.

14. Get a second opinion by an expert. To increase your chances of getting published, hire a freelance editor who's familiar with the genre (like me) to go over it and look for inconsistencies, plot holes, stilted dialogue, head-hopping, etc., and generally polish it until it shines!

Copyright © Jodie Renner, October 2010  http://www.jodierennerediting.com/

Some excellent resource books on writing romance novels: On Writing Romance – How to Craft a Novel That Sells, by Leigh Michaels; The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel, by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes; and Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wainger.

writing romance, romance novels, how to write a romance novel, tips for writers, advice for fiction writers

Friday, October 1, 2010