Monday, December 30, 2013


Guess what was waiting for me when I got home from tutoring and the grocery store today. My print proof of Love Served Hot!!! I'll post when it becomes available!
Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Writing Tip Wednesday--Types of Publishing

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page.

The publishing world is evolving faster than publishers, agents, and writers can keep up. Authors have more choices than ever before in regards to getting their stories into the hands of readers. Let’s take a look at Types of Publishing.

Traditional Publishers—This option is usually defined as print publishers like the Big 5 and Harlequin for romance. Most pay advances of varying amounts. Print (mass market paperback) is the primary format, but e-books are available for some imprints. Some of these publishers accept only agented submissions. Time from submission to release is often 1-2 years. Some traditional publishers also have e-release only imprints. The publisher is responsible for production and distribution costs.

Small Press/E-Publishers—This option is typically digital-first or digital-only release. Advances are unusual. E-books are the primary format, with print-on-demand books (trade paperback) sometimes made available, depending on sales, book length, or contract stipulations. Most of these publishers do not require agented submissions. Time from submission to release is usually significantly less than traditional publishers, often ranging from 2-3 months to 1 year. The publisher is responsible for production and distribution costs. Royalty rates are usually higher than traditional publishing royalties.

Self-Publishing—This option includes digital and/or print release at the author’s discretion. Advances are not given. E-books are the primary format, but print-on-demand (trade paperback) is also available. Submissions aren’t required. Release time depends on the author’s schedule. The author is responsible for all costs associated with production, distribution, and promotion. Tasks like editing, book cover design, and formatting can be contracted out for fees. All royalties are paid directly to the author from the distributors at higher than traditional, small press, and vanity rates. The author is the publisher.

Vanity Publishing—This option can include digital and/or print release. Advances are not given. The author pays fees to the vanity publisher for book production, distribution, and promotion. This business model does not follow the general rule that money should flow from the publisher to the author.

While I personally don’t advocate choosing the vanity route, each author must decide which course works best for his/her needs. Weigh the pros and cons of each option. Take into consideration how you feel about the time frame to publication, royalty rates, upfront costs, and the learning curve associated with each path. Above all, do your research to make an educated decision!

Which way does your scale lean? Do you prefer more than one method (hybrid author)?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recipe Time! Sugar Cookies

I'm finally getting in the holiday mood now that I've finished shopping and wrapping presents. The Christmas tree and decorations are up, and today was a baking day. My house smells like Sugar Cookies and Magic Cookie Bars. Tomorrow it'll smell like Chocolate Chip Biscotti and Kolache (Hungarian Nut Roll). Time to share a recipe!

Sugar Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
5-6 cups flour

Cream sugar and shortening. Stir in egg, milk, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Cover and chill at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

Roll dough about 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Bake 6-7 minutes until bottoms are light brown. Cool and store in an airtight container. Makes about 6 dozen medium-sized cookies. Frost if desired.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Writing Tip Wednesday--Using Track Changes

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page.

Using Track Changes is standard practice for almost every publisher when editing manuscripts. Many agents prefer this method of noting comments, corrections, and suggestions in submissions. Some contests use it for feedback in entries. Every writer needs to know how to use track changes within a Word document.

Most times, Word will open with track changes already on if the document has been edited or critiqued with that method. If it doesn’t, you can turn it on manually by going to the “Review” tab and clicking on the switch above “Track Changes” in Word for Mac 2011. You’ll find track changes in a similar location in other versions of word. Comment bubbles will appear in the right margin to show comments and changes. Look within the document for additions of commas, apostrophes, etc. You’ll see a black vertical line in the margin wherever these additions have been made.

For anonymity as a contest judge, change the “Security” setting under the “Word” toolbar tab and “Preferences.” Set “Security” to remove personal information upon saving the document. Some versions of Word allow the user to create a name to use for track changes, such as Judge 101 or Red-Pen Editor.

To respond to a comment within the existing comment bubble, click inside the bubble and type.

To accept changes and corrections made to the document, click on the checkmark at the top of the comment bubble. To reject and omit the changes and corrections, click on the X. The comment bubble will disappear when accepted or rejected, so do this only if you wish to delete the comment. Be sure to “Save” the document to save your changes.

To add a new comment, click on “New” under “Comments” within the “Review” tab in Word for Mac 2011 or similar command in other versions. A comment bubble will appear in the right margin near the location of the highlighted word you wish to address in the document. Sections of text may be highlighted if the comment refers to a phrase, sentence, paragraph, or scene. Type your comment in the bubble. Be sure to “Save” the document to save your comments.

Make corrections within the document while track changes is on to show where corrections have been made. A bubble will appear when spaces, letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols are deleted from the text. The addition of spaces, letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols will show in the default color or the color you’ve chosen for your comments. You can set your color choices by clicking on “Preferences” in the “Show Markup” drop-down menu. A vertical black line will also appear in the margin to designate the area. Again, “Save” the document to save your changes.

Now you know how to use track changes. Practice with critique partners, beta-readers, or during self-editing to get comfortable with it.

A word of caution about track changes—When using the feedback of critiques, beta-reads, judged contest entries, and self-edits, ALWAYS make your changes in a clean document. Don’t depend on those accept, reject, and delete comment buttons to make track changes bubbles disappear forever. Once in a while, they reappear when track changes is turned on. I’ve judged contest entries with comments in the manuscript before I’ve started my critiques. Don’t let this happen when you’re submitting to your dream agent or editor!

Track changes—Do you love it or hate it?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With a Kick!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Blog Visit #4 & Giveaway!

I'm rounding out the week with another blog visit and giveaway! Check out today's post on Hennessee Andrews' blog and comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card! Deadline to comment is midnight on Sunday, Dec. 15th. Hope to see you there!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another Blog Stop & Giveaway!

Good morning! Today I'm visiting with my friend, critique partner, and fellow Sextet sister Cheryl Brooks on her blog. Check out the recipe that inspires the hot kitchen scene in Love Served Hot and comment for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Writing Tip Wednesday--Critiques and Beta-Readers

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page.

Being part of a critique partnership or group is a personal choice. Some writers prefer to use beta readers or a combination of betas and critters. Others may rely on self-editing before submitting. Perhaps you need feedback faster than most critters can provide. As with most of the writing process, do what works best for you.

The first rule of critiquing is to point out positive aspects in the manuscript as well as problem areas. Use explanations and suggestions to help the writer make corrections. Critiquing is about giving and receiving feedback, not criticism. Keep in mind that a critique is one person’s opinion and you don’t have to follow every suggestion.

Don’t expect your critique partner to catch every mistake. Even the best editors can miss simple errors. A less-experienced writer may not spot POV glitches, passive voice, or telling instead of showing, but the vast majority of writers are avid readers and will notice plot issues and character problems. You can’t become experienced without experience. Critique partners and groups should complement each other, with each participant bringing strengths that offset another’s weaknesses. You're building what should be a long-term relationship.

Be honest. I can’t stress this enough. You aren’t doing your critique partner any favors by letting major problems slide. Some things can be attributed to voice or the tone of the story, but writing craft weaknesses can’t be improved if the writer is unaware. If you’re wary of pointing out issues in the manuscript, this could be an indication you and your crit partner might not be a good fit. Use the first rule of critiquing for guidance.

Critique feedback can help you develop the thick skin you'll need to succeed in the publishing world. Not every person will like your story. Whether you agree or disagree with the feedback, make a concerted effort to let the comments and suggestions you don't like roll off your back. In most cases, your partner is trying to help you improve the story. If you suspect snark and non-constructive feedback, consider finding a new critter group.

Some partners/groups exchange crits online. Others meet in person. Some use a combination. Something to remember--we often misread meaning without face-to-face contact to read body language and hear intonation/inflection. Brainstorming usually works better with the immediate vocal response rather than thoughts put into written word.

We all have lots of responsibilities. However, repeatedly promising to return a chapter or manuscript by a deadline and missing it is a no-no. If you tend to be slower or know you have a particularly busy schedule, be up front about the amount of time you’ll need to complete the critique. By the same token, be aware that your chapter/manuscript may not be your crit partner’s first priority. Expecting to get your piece back the same day is inconsiderate—unless you’ve agreed about the response time prior to sending.

Critiquing is a great opportunity to get valuable feedback and learn more about writing craft, but finding someone you’re comfortable working with is vital.

A few words on beta-readers…
A beta-reader reads through the entire manuscript looking for logic lapses, continuity and pacing issues, typos, and other obvious errors. Many times, this person is a reader rather than a writer.

Some suggestions for working with beta-readers:
Even if you know and trust your beta-reader implicitly, consider entering into a basic contract. This may seem like overkill, but, while uncommon, authors have been plagiarized by their beta-readers. Piracy can also be an issue, so protect yourself.
Set a reasonable time frame for feedback, like you would with a critique partner.
As with a critique, suggestions from a beta-reader are one person’s opinion. The ultimate decision belongs to the author.
Your beta-reader should be an avid reader of the genre you’re writing.

What works best for you? Why do you prefer that method?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blog Visit #2 + Giveaway

I'm over visiting with Nan Reinhardt on her blog today! Stop by for an excerpt, a recipe, and a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Blog Visit & Giveaway!

I'm over at Siobhan Muir's blog today for an author spotlight and giveaway! Stop by and comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With a Kick!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Guest Posts and Giveaways!

Next week, I'll be visiting four blogs, sharing excerpts from Love Served Hot, and giving away a $10 Amazon gift card at each stop! Look for links on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Recipe--Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes

I've been experimenting in the kitchen again! With my son's tutoring schedule and a sick husband all week, I've been relying on simple and prepare-ahead ideas for supper. Oh, and I also still have most of those two bushels of sweet potatoes from the garden to use. Here's my latest success!

Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes
approx. 1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork loin roast
1 teaspoon salt-free meat tenderizer
1 large onion, sliced crosswise into rings
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar

Trim fat from roast and slice into 4-6 chops, cutting 3/4 of the way through to allow slices to fan out. Place in 3-4 quart casserole dish or Crockpot. Sprinkle tenderizer between cuts and insert an onion slice between chops. Arrange remaining onions on top and around roast.

Place sweet potato chunks in a large bowl. Pour juices over top and stir to coat. Don't skip this step! The juice prevents the sweet potatoes from discoloring. Add sweet potatoes and juice to casserole dish or Crockpot. Top with cranberries. Dot with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover.

Bake at 300 degrees for 4 hours or 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or cook in Crockpot on medium for 4-6 hours. Makes 4-6 servings.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Writing Tip Wednesday is back! Finish the Book!

Welcome back to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be focusing on Career topics in this next group of posts and look forward to your visits each week! Feel free to share the link with others!!!

Writing is only one part of being an author.

Depending on the publishing path(s) you choose, the other demands on your time will vary—besides family, day jobs, etc.. We all have to self-promote and communicate with readers through social media. Edits are a vital component of preparing a manuscript for publication. Conferences, conventions, and booksignings can also be a part of a writing career. Keeping track of income and expenses is a must, whether you prepare your own tax returns or hire a tax specialist. A website requires maintenance and blogging takes time away from writing. What about building a brand?

While all of these topics are important (and I’ll be blogging about them and numerous others over the next several months), the number one priority of every writer should be to finish the (next) book. Without a complete manuscript, your chances of getting published are zero. Without the next book, your readers will find something else to read.

However, don’t sacrifice your story to get it out to readers more quickly. Quality trumps quantity every time. Write a good story—and then write another one. We all write at different speeds and have different methods, so try not to compare yourself to others. Do what works for you and avoid measuring your success based on someone else’s ruler.

Some suggestions for getting that book done:
1) Set daily writing goals.
2) Participate in #1K1h sprints with other writers.
3) Discover your best time of day to write and set aside a portion of it for writing.
4) Take a writer’s retreat.
5) Brainstorm with other writers or friends.
6) Designate a reward for each chapter you finish or a larger one for finishing the book.

What motivates you to sit in that chair and write?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!