Marcia’s Romantically Yours
Issue # 33
marcia king-gamble

Dear Romance Writer,

I've always thought of November as the month of giving thanks. I see it as the perfect time of year to review our achievements and express gratitude for the good things in life. Rather than focus on the things we don’t have, we need to appreciate the things we do have. We should take nothing for granted.

Good health is not a given nor is having food on the table. Freedom of speech is something we in the United States think we are entitled too. forgetting that in some countries it is a death sentence.

Life has been good to me this year. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to live in another state. I am grateful that despite complaining loudly about tight deadlines, I can still write stories from the heart.



The career I love has brought people I enjoy into my life. It’s also enabled me to have several life changing experiences. For example, my fantasies were brought to life in the form of Flamingo Beach, the fictitious town I created in north Florida. Be sure to pick up a copy of Sex on Flamingo Beach at any bookstore.

It’s a fun, easy read and you will enjoy the conflicted relationship between Resort Director, Emilie Woodward and sexy Land Developer, Rowan James.

2008 starts off with a bang. In January, my mainstream book, Hook, Line and Single; a personal favorite can be found in your neighborhood book store. This story chronicles a woman of a certain age as she ventures out into the brave new world of cyber and speed dating.

As the leaves continue to fall, keep those creative juices flowing. Revel in the rich, warm colors of the changing landscape, enjoy a delightful turkey dinner, and give thanks like you’ve never given thanks before. Remember nothing we have should ever be taken for granted.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!

Romantically Yours,

Marcia King-Gamble
Editor -- Romantically Yours

P.S. Join me on Sunday, November 18th at 9.00 p.m. for a chat at

Tools of the Trade

Those Dreaded Revisions


You’d be lying if you didn’t admit that your precious manuscript needed work. Good writing comes from rewriting. Refining and rewriting your novel is the best thing you can do for yourself before submitting to an editor. It's a process that even seasoned writers must do.

Be critical in your evaluation and brutal about slashing unnecessary words. If you're attached to a particular word or sentence determine if it helps move your story along. But make sure to get the words down on paper first before getting out that red pen.

My preference is to print my story out chapter by chapter before rereading it with a critical eye. I determine if the pace is right, and whether the dialogue moves the story forward or is filler. I question whether I've got the setting down and if I've engaged all the senses.

Have I hooked the reader at the very beginning? Am I providing too much information up front or too much back story? Are my characters cardboard caricatures rather than real people? Does my dialogue work? Is this the way real people speak? Do their motives make sense?

Next I dissect the conflict. Is the conflict more external than internal? Do my hero and heroine angst? Will readers find them sympathetic and will they want to keep turning pages. If I'm bored then I know the reader is bored.

Have I provided a satisfying ending? Are the events believable or too predictable? Have I provided a resolution for each story thread? Do my characters grow and change in some way? Are they willing to compromise their beliefs, goals etc. for that happy ending?

I check for minute details. If the heroine is not wearing make-up in the last scene, and I transition into another same day scene is she now wearing lipstick? The same goes for weather. If it's snowing outside, are my people wearing boots, overcoats, hats, carrying shovels?

Be methodical when it comes to checking facts. If you set a romantic scene in Mexico and your hero and heroine are making a trip to the Ruins of Tulum, check your logistics. Can they logically get there by ground transportation or is a ferry required? Can they bike or will they need to hire a taxi?

What about points of view? Will the reader be clear on whose point of view the scene is in? Are you head hopping? Have you checked for spelling and grammatical mistakes? What about punctuation?

Here are some helpful checkpoints to make your manuscript the best it can be.

  • Have you hooked your reader from the beginning?
  • Have you described your characters? Are they real and not stereotypes?
  • Is the setting clear?
  • Is anything happening?
  • Are your characters changing and growing as they go along?
  • Are they acting and reacting?
  • Is the resolution believable and have I tied up loose ends?
  • Have I used strong action verbs?
  • Have I checked facts?
  • Am I changing points of view so fast it makes the action hard to follow?
  • Have I engaged the senses and can I feel the emotion as I read through?

    Now go to it and do your best writing.


    The holiday season is right around the corner and a notoriously slow month for romance writers' conferences. Stay tuned as we'll definitely have more updates next year. Meanwhile check local Romance Writers of America websites for dates, times and locations of holiday parties. Happy Turkey all!


    Dorien Kelly, former waitress, lawyer, and now popular romance writer, brings us Below Deck, the fifth in the Mediterranean Nights Series. Dorien hails from Michigan, loves anything Irish and adores her pets. Read on to hear what this popular author has to say.

    Interview with Dorien Kelly


    Why would a lawyer turn to romance writing?


    I was a very unhappy lawyer. The hours required to make it big in the legal field can be grueling. I had had my third child and, much as I adored the family nanny, I wanted to be home with my children. I had always read romance as a means of unwinding from work. The natural next step was to start writing romances.



    Lead us through the process from submitting a manuscript, getting rejected and then getting that first call. Do you remember where you were and how it felt?


    I was pretty lucky. My first completed manuscript won a Golden Heart award from the Romance Writers of America. It was, however, a big, fat book that had no idea what it wanted to be when it grew up--kind of a romantic comedy, suspense, heaven-knows-what hybrid. The two publishers I submitted it to turned it down, but rather hesitantly asked for revisions. I couldn't figure out how to untangle the mess I'd written, so I thanked them very much for their time and started on other projects instead.

    In 2000, I queried Harlequin with a romantic comedy and received a request for the full manuscript two weeks later. Months passed. To distract myself, I started on more stories. Even more months passed. After nearly a year, I worked up the nerve to call Harlequin's Toronto office. I was told that I'd be hearing something "soon." Several more weeks passed.

    By this point, I knew that a publisher's "soon" was a tad different than my concept of soon. I became oddly despondent and convinced that my manuscript would me returning to me with a rejection letter. I began to consider taking up golf and being a good corporate wife to my now ex-husband. Days later (on May 3, 2001, to be exact), I received "the call." I was folding laundry when it came, and my main emotion was relief. I never did learn how to golf...which partially explains why my ex is an ex!


    Many say writing is a business. Do you agree with this statement, if so why?


    Writing is very much a business. As authors, we have our product (books), our "corporate" internal customers (editors), and our external customers (readers). Certainly our product requires a great deal of creativity, but if we choose writing as a career, we do ourselves a disservice by saying it's not a business.



    You describe yourself as type A. How does this very active personality type sit still writing? What are some of the pluses a type A person can bring to their writing?


    One of things I've learned about me is that I'm far more efficient and organized when time is at a premium. Between kids, dogs, writing, and my volunteer efforts with Romance Writers of America, I've managed to reach that state. I focus because I have no other choice! Part of being a type A (not to mention a former attorney) is an obsession with detail. When writing Below Deck, I researched not only the various ports my characters would visit, but also how Israel's Mossad (secret service) is structured, Chinese language and mythology, massage techniques (got myself one or two!), and the baby trade in China. Geeky as it sounds, I love the research portion of writing!


    What are you currently reading? Tell us about some of your favorite books and what makes them favorites.


    As a true research geek, I read mostly non-fiction. Right now I'm focusing on learning all I can about the current Irish economy and housing and job opportunities around Slane, a town west of Dublin. When I have time for pleasure reading, I pick up books by my friends. A recent favorite is Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen. It's a lyrical, magical, wonderful book, with so much of Sarah's southern voice resonating in it. When I'm feeling tired or blue, I go to my keeper shelf. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips' novels. Her characters are often deeply flawed, yet she makes them endearing to the reader. I love her sense of humor, too. Humor is what keeps me strong during the tough times.


    You're a pet lover. I believe you have terriers and a coon hound. Tell us about these pets. Do any of your books feature dogs?


    I have two West Highland White terriers--Ceili and Seamus. Ceili, the eldest of my dogs, pretty much runs the show around here. Seamus is a wimp, but he's so cute that I forgive him for being terrified of most everything. Bubba Gimp, the coon hound, is our most recent addition. My eldest daughter foisted him on me about two years ago, claiming to have found the puppy abandoned in the road. Actually, the breeder was going to destroy him because he's not your normal-looking dog. He's shaped like the letter "C" due to a hip deformity. He also has far too many toes on one back paw, and far too few on the others. He gets around by hopping like a bunny. He's a sweet guy and has no idea that he's any bigger than his Westie siblings, or deformed at all. Much as I give my daughter grief about conning me into bonding with Bubba when he was little, I'm so glad she did!

    My best fictional dog is Roger, who's featured in a trilogy of Irish-set contemporary romances I wrote a few years back. Roger is named after a real Roger the dog I met while traveling in Ireland. Fictional Roger is a dubious blend of Jack Russell terrier and something larger and quite ugly. He's the familiar of Vi Kilbride--artist, earth mother, and just perhaps witch.


    Can you give us a thumb nail sketch about Below Deck, the sixth book in the Mediterranean series?


    Mei Lin Wang is a widow and mother of a young son who she has hidden aboard Alexandra's Dream while she works as a massage therapist, trying to make enough money to start a new life far away from those who killed her husband. Gideon Dayan is chief of security aboard ship, a job he has taken while he finishes recovering from injuries sustained during a terrorist bombing that took the life of his lover. Lin and Gideon play a cat-and-mouse game over the secret of Lin's son and the emotional secrets they withhold from each other. Ultimately, they need to decide if they are bold enough to trust and love again.


    Did you find it challenging to be an author in a continuity trying to weave together all of these story lines? Was this your first attempt and would you do it again?


    I'll admit that I was a little rattled by the task of weaving so much together. In the end, though, I enjoyed the challenge of making the story lines flow far more than I expected to! Below Deck was my first continuity, and I'm quite happy with the result. Though it was strange to work with plot basics that were handed to me, I feel as though I've made the story "mine." I'd gladly write more continuities.


    Your heroine in this book is Asian. Did writing an Asian woman come naturally, or did you have to do extensive research?


    Lin's voice came to me naturally. At the risk of sounding a little "out there," once I get going with a story, I tend to kind of "channel" the heroine's voice. The rest, though, took research. Because there are certain restrictions on the ability of a Chinese citizen to move about, giving Lin the skills she needed was a challenge.


    Some authors set a goal of being on the New York Times Best Sellers list by a certain time. What's your goal in the next five years?


    While fixing a date to hit the NYT list is tempting, I have learned the hard way not to set goals that are out of my direct control. In five years, I'd like to be earning enough from my writing to both support my family and save for retirement. Not that I plan to retire.


    It's said you have a love of Ireland and you have featured Ireland in several books. Why Ireland?


    I traveled to Ireland for the first time about ten years ago. Since I have some Irish blood, I'd always been curious about the country. That first trip lasted a month, and I returned a number of times after that. I've studied the Irish language, literature, and the country's history. It feels like home to me. If I ever hit that NYT list and stick there for a while, I'd love to have a piece of property overlooking the sea in Dingle, County Kerry.


    How has Michigan where you live featured in your writing? Have you used the state as a setting?


    I live in a little village on the shore of Lake Michigan. Our summer population is large, but in winter, I know each and every car driving down the road. So far, I've set three books in a fictionalized version of my village, with more on the way. I've also used Ann Arbor, where I attended undergrad, and the Detroit area, where I lived for many years, as settings.


    Finally, if you weren't writing romances what would Dorien Kelly be doing?


    I'd be writing something else! I've already had one career that I didn't find satisfying, so I know how lucky I am to be able to write.

    Who’s Acquiring

    Did you know?

    Pittsburgh is the site for the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention. Mark your calendars for April 16-20th and join fellow booklovers at the Pittsburgh Hilton. Meet special guest Fabio at the reunion dinner.


    Romantically Yours is a FREE monthly newsletter. I would love to hear from you. Please send comments, news, research, or story ideas directly to Marcia King-Gamble at