Sirius Publications

Siriusly: Our Solar Newsletter

Spring 2003

Text Only Version:

Web Version:

In this Issue:

Letter from the Editor

Special Offer

Author Chat

New and Upcoming Releases

Workshops for Writers

Contests for Writers

Contest Winners

Our Current Contests

Recommended Books

Ask the Publisher

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Special Offer!

For our Newsletter subscribers only:
Buy one e-book, get one FREE!
Simply order your e-book and you will receive a second e-book FREE via email.

Other Current Specials:
Order any trade paperback and get the e-book version of the same book, FREE!

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- Letter from the Editor-

Dear Readers,

Happy Spring! We have lots of exciting developments here at Sirius Publications. This issue's theme is romance.

In keeping with the theme, this month's writing contests and workshops are romance related. This month's featured author is romance novelist Jo Barrett.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines romance as:

  1. Love.
  2. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people. A strong, sometimes short-lived attachment, fascination, or enthusiasm for something.
  3. A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.
  4. A long medieval narrative in prose or verse that tells of the adventures and heroic exploits of chivalric heroes: an Arthurian romance.
  5. A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.
  6. An artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.

    All of these seem to apply to the genre of romance. We love it for its mysteriousness, adventure, and because, although fictional, it rings so true. We hope that the books described in this newsletter fit that profile.

    As a special thank you to our readers, we are currently offering buy one e-book, get one free to newsletter subscribers. Simply place your order as you normally would, and your free e-book will be sent to you via email.


    Kerri A. Kadow
    Publisher and Co-editor

    Tracy L. Ranson

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    - Author Chat -

    Hello everyone! Itís me, Evelyn Masters coming at you again this month! Our spotlight theme is romance. With spring in the air, you know what they say about a young manís fancy.... Today, I have the pleasure of sitting down with Jo Barrett, a wonderfully talented writer with Sirius Publications. Her book, Rare Passion, has been a top seller at Sirius.

    Evelyn: Welcome Jo! Glad you could join us!

    Jo: Iíve always got time for you Evelyn.

    Evelyn (blushing): You always say the nicest things, Jo. Okay, letís get started. What made you pick up the pen and start writing?

    Jo: I've been writing poetry and folk music since I was a little girl. Books, however, came much later. One day when I was unable to get back to a romance novel I was reading due to the many interruptions of life, I found myself finishing the story in my head. When I finally got back to the book, I was amazed at how similar my ending was to the author's. That got me to thinking and the next thing I knew I was writing Rare Passion.

    Evelyn: Wow! Thatís a real epiphany, Jo. So tell me, what inspires you?

    Jo: Almost anything can be an inspiration. A word or phrase spoken by a friend that sticks in my mind, a building or situation that catches my interest, anything. A great many times it is a personality trait that stands out in someone I know or meet. I find myself building a hero or heroine around that trait subconsciously until they become real and I have to write about them.

    Evelyn: It sounds like youíve really found your calling. What other hobbies do you have other than writing?

    Jo: I enjoy cross-stitching and of course reading. In my past I've done some painting and pottery, but those tend to take up more of my time than I'm willing to give since I started writing.

    Evelyn: Boy, youíve really got your hands full. Now onto the tougher, meatier questions that Iím sure your readers want to know. Where do you get your plot ideas? Movies, books or just everyday life?

    Jo: I get my plot ideas from everyday life and my own past experiences. I feel like I'm stealing if I use anything I've read or seen in movies. But even I have to admit there are ideas that stick with you after watching a movie or reading a book and weave themselves into my thoughts. In all honesty, there are no new plot ideas. It's all been done before. The real trick is in the telling of the same old story so that it sounds new and holds the reader's interest.

    Evelyn: So where did you go to hone your craft of writing?

    Jo: I've attended writing classes in the past, and do a lot of reading, both how-to guides and a great deal of today's good romance novels--a must if you want to know where your ideas fit into today's book market. I also belong to a critique group and have submitted manuscripts to publishing houses. Their responses and constructive criticisms help guide me and improve my writing.

    Evelyn: I know this is a little bit of a personal question but I have to ask. Is there someone in your life that motivates you?

    Jo: Not really. My family and friends are extremely supportive, but my motivation comes from inside me and the story itself.

    Evelyn: How do they inspire you?

    Jo (her eyes turned to the ceiling as if deep in thought): If I had to pick a person or persons that truly inspire me, I would have to say it's the hero and heroine. They become real people in my mind and demand that I tell their story.

    Evelyn: What sort of writing role models do you have?

    Jo: I have to say that most of my role models are today's romance authors, yet I'm a great fan of Shakespeare and other classical writers. My favorites would be Lynn Kurland, for her amazing ability to write emotions, Dara Joy, for her uniqueness in paranormal/science fiction--not to mention extremely steamy love scenes, and Nora Roberts for her drive and daring. There are so many, however, it would be impossible to name them all.

    Evelyn: Okay, this is something I want to know. What is your ideal setting in order to draft a novel?

    Jo: Hmm, Iíd have to say absolute quiet, which is nearly impossible in this world, would be my ideal, but that rarely happens. However, there are times when I have no interruptions, no phone calls, no family members or pets popping in and out of my office. That is when I find myself lost in the story, and often forget to even eat. Those are my most productive days. Physically I require a good ergonomic chair and desk setup with the proper lighting. Otherwise, I find myself tiring too easily. A backache does not induce good writing.

    Evelyn: With all of this great information, where would you like to be in the writing world in the next ten years? What are your goals for your novels (for instance, awards or recognition)?

    Jo: Making the bestseller list would be my ideal. At this time my only published work is Rare Passion with Sirius Publications, but I hope to someday be published by a mass market publishing house. I have had many requests for full manuscripts from Harlequin, but haven't quite managed that last step to being published by them. As for awards, I already have several for both my novels and short stories. I don't really have the desire to pursue any more and would rather concentrate on writing. The greatest reward however, would be to write full time.

    There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! A candid interview with my favorite author and soon to be yours. Thanks for coming and chatting with us, Jo!

    Jo: My pleasure, Evelyn. Iím glad I could sit with you.

    This is Evelyn Masters saying so long and happy reading! Until next month!

    Rare Passion is available from Sirius Publications at:

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    - Writing Workshops -

    Writer's College

    Romance Club Romance novel writing course

    Published Authorís Special Interest Chapter

    How to Write a Romance Novel in Ten weeks

    Romance Centralís Writerís Workshop

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    - Writing Contests -

    Please note that we do not run any of these contests ourselves. To enter a competition, find more information, or check on your entry, please contact the competition organizers directly.

    To list your contest, please send contest name, entry deadline and URL through our contact form at http://www.sirius- Please indicate whether the contest has an entry fee. We do not list contests that are limited to a small geographic area or that do not have a website.

    To see contests we host ourselves, please see below or visit

    Romance Report

    The Romance Club

    The Avon Ladies

    Bobbi Smith Contest

    Jaclyn Reding Home Contest Page

    Elizabeth Lowell Contest

    Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick

    Romance Report Contests

    Romance Authorís Giveaway

    Elizabeth Lowell Contest

    Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick

    Romance Report Contests

    Romance Authorís Giveaway

    More contest links:

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    - Contest Winners -

    Romance Drawing Winners

    February: Gladys Harada
    Gladys chose The Gaia Syndrome.

    March: Carol Gross

    You could win a free ebook too! See our contest rules below.

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    - Our Current Contests -

    Newsletter Readers' Contest, Win a Free Book!

    To Enter: Sign up for our newsletter, Siriusly. To find out more about it, go to our Newsletter page. If you already have a subscription, you're already entered in the contest!

    The Prize: One prize- first place winner may choose from among the many choices at Sirius Publications, including romance, horror, fiction, and much more. A complete book list is available. Winner can choose an e-book or paperback print on demand format (if their book is available in that format.) Paperback format will be signed by the author.

    How: Winners will be chosen by a random drawing (drawing will be done using 8 1/2 by 11 paper with email addresses and names printed on it.) The winner will be notified by e-mail.

    Deadline: Midnight, May 28th. Notification: By June 15 the winner will be notified via an e-mail. After that, their prize will be e-mailed or mailed to them by Sirius Publications depending upon which title they have chosen.

    Official Contest Rules are available here.


    If you are already a best-selling author or one that just got published and wish to offer either signed copies or e-books as prizes, please e-mail me at the link below. Self-promotion works.

    Reviewer Rewards

    To Enter:

    Submit a review of one of our books. Review must be at least five sentences long. Of course, you must have purchased and read the book to review it. By submitting a review, you give us permission to post it on our site.

    The Prizes

    Grand Prize: One free paperback book (your choice from our catalog.)

    Runners Up: We will post any qualified reviews on our site and anyone whose review is posted will receive a choice of any e-book from Sirius Publications.

    How: Our panel of judges will vote on which was the best review based on creativity, clarity, appropriateness, and style. The review receiving the most votes wins. The winner will be notified by e-mail.

    Deadline: Midnight, the 15th of each month. Notification: By the 25th of that month, the winner will be notified via an e-mail. After that, their prize will be e-mailed or mailed to them by Sirius Publications depending upon which title they have chosen.

    Hint: To see examples and what we look for in a review, look at our review pages and Sirius Recommends book reviews.

    Official Contest Rules are available here.

    Short Story Contest

    To Enter:

    Submit a short story. Story must be between five and twenty-five pages long when printed on 8 1/2 by 11 paper, typed, double spaced. By submitting a story, you give us permission to post it on our site.

    The Prizes:

    Grand Prize: Twenty-five dollar online gift certificate from, plus a free e-book, and a certificate highlighting your accomplishment. Your story will be published on our site.

    First place: Winner may choose from among the many e-books at Sirius Publications, including romance, horror, fiction, and much more. A complete book list is available. Will also receive a certificate highlighting your accomplishment.

    How: Our panel of judges will determine the best short story on: originality (30%), creativity (20%), clarity (20%), grammar (10%) and style (20%). The winner will be notified by e-mail. In the event of a tie, duplicate prizes will be awarded.

    Deadline: Midnight, June 25th. Notification: By July 25th, the winner will be notified via an e-mail. After that, their prize will be e-mailed or mailed to them by Sirius Publications depending upon which title they have chosen. If there is an unusually large amount of entries, the winner will be notified by August 25th.

    Official Contest Rules are available here.

    Drawing #2: Win a Romance E-Book!

    To Enter: Sign up by entering your email address at Tracy L. Ranson's site.

    The Prize: One prize- first place winner may choose from among the original romance novels in e-book format by Sirius Publications.

    How: Winners will be chosen by a random drawing (drawing will be done using 8 1/2 by 11 paper with email addresses and names printed on it.) The winner will be notified by e-mail.

    Deadline: Midnight, the 15th of each month. Notification: By the end of the next month, the winner will be notified via an e-mail. After that, their prize will be e-mailed or mailed to them by Sirius Publications depending upon which title they have chosen.

    Official Contest Rules are available here.

    Each month's contest will be different, so check back each month to see what's being offered!

    - Romance Writing Resources and Links -

    Isn't It Romantic?

    Nora Roberts

    Romance Author's Page

    Romance Central Links

    Romance Reviews from WritersWrite

    Romance Writers of America

    Subversion: Celebrating Women's Fiction

    Byron Romance Port

    Romance Reader


    Road to Romance>

    Romance Novel Review

    The Romance Review

    Romance Novels

    Readers Anonymous

    Historical Romance Website

    Romantic Notions

    Romancing the Web

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    Ask the Publisher

    Sirius Publications' Publisher, Kerri A. Kadow, answers questions about writing, publishing and e-books. Have a question for us? Contact us through the contact form at:

    Your letter may be edited for space and clarity.

    Dear Publisher,

    What do you look for in a romance novel when you choose whether or not to publish it? I am getting ready to write a romance and would appreciate any tips at this early stage.


    Dear Lisa,

    What I look for in a romance novel is what I look for in any novel: An involving plot, originality, creativity, engaging characters, and inspired prose/descriptions. Letís take a more in-depth look at characters and tips on how writers can make their characters jump off the page:

    Characters are important in any novel, not least of all a romance novel. You need to know your character inside and out. Know more about them than you will tell your reader. Your hero or your heroine are the focal point of your novel.

    Think about memorable characters you have read. Review any notes you have. Your main character should be consistent with your novel idea and background setting. You may want to write a history or outline of your characterís life for your own reference as you write the novel.

    In describing your character, you will probably start with outer characteristics others can see:

    1. Gender

    2. Age

    3. Body Type: tall and skinny, short, stocky, physically handicapped

    4. Other Physical Features: hair color, texture, style, eye color, expression, makeup, facial expression, facial features (classical, rugged, heavy, coarse); mouth (full, sensuous, twisted, smirking).

    5. Dress: fashionable, casual, neat, tailored. Choose one item of clothing that best personifies your character's attitude toward attire, such as white go-go boots or a Stetson hat.

    6. Obvious Mannerisms: tossing hair, nail biting, foot-tapping, scratching head.

    7. Posture: stiff, slumped, easy-going.

    8. Movements: awkward, graceful, sinuous.

    9. Speech: deliberate, drawling, accented, dialect.

    10. First Impression of Personality: domineering, lovable, grumpy, sweet, bubbly

    (Source: Characters, Romance 101)

    Slight imperfections can be good for helping people to identify with the character, especially if you are writing for a romance publisher whose novels feature attractive people (most do). Physical traits are important for secondary characters as well, as they may be all the reader learns of some minor characters. Make them interesting.

    Remember not to concentrate only on the physical characteristics, however. Your character should have a background as mentioned above, and also:

    ē temperament

    ē moral/ethical/religious beliefs

    ē political stance

    ē hobbies

    ē habits

    ē quirks or eccentricities

    ē likes/dislikes

    ē fears or phobias

    ē short and long term goals

    ē hopes and dreams

    Phobias, mannerisms, and forms of speech will help give them character.

    Perhaps your heroine is afraid of heights, cracks her knuckles, and has a favorite expression, like ďyowsersĒ. OK that sounds silly, but it got your attention, didnít it?

    Your character needs a name as well. Some authors suggest not to name the character until you have fleshed them out somewhat. Their reasoning is that you may stereotype names according to people you have met. If you met several people named Greg and they were all jerks, you would have a prejudice against that name. If you name your hero Greg, you may have feelings about that name that come out and taint the character. A baby name book can be helpful when choosing a name. Think about what the name evokes, and why.

    Emotional traits are of course very important for development of your character. Avoid stereotypes and black and white situations. For example, donít make the villain of the story purely evilógive him or her some humanity. Donít make your hero or heroine goody-two-shoes, give them a dark side.

    Itís also important that your main character does what seems likely given their backgroundóin other words, they have motivation for their actions and behave in accordance with their character.

    "The creatures of the novelist's invention should be observed with individuality, and their actions should proceed from their characters; the reader must never be allowed to say: "So and so would never behave like that"; on the contrary, he should be obligated to say, "That's exactly how I should have expected so and so to behave." --Somerset Maugham.

    This may sound contrary, but the character also needs to change. Throughout the story, the hero or heroine (or often, both) are gradually changing in some small or larger ways. This is another way the character develops, and is known by some professorial types as the ďcharacter arcĒ. Perhaps your heroine has been hurt in the past and decided never to take a chance on romance again. The change comes when she starts to reconsider this decision. Of course, itís never easy in romance novels, there are many obstacles to overcome before she can let down the barriers and move forward. The character evolves or grows in some way by the end of the book.

    I hope this helps you in writing your romance novel. Next time we will look at some other aspects of a great novel. Good luck!


    Kerri A. Kadow
    Sirius Publications

    Related Links:

    Writing-World Romance

    BabyCenter: Baby Name Search

    Baby Name Network

    Cal Poly Pomona Name Pronunciation Guide

    Character Names

    Edgar's Name Pages


    Etymology of First Names

    Girls' Names and Definitions

    Irish Names

    Medieval Names Archive: English, Old English, and Anglo-Norman Names

    Parenthood Web

    Random Vocabularies/Name Generation Page

    What's in Your Name?

    Character naming Sourcebook

    - Recommended Books -

    Featured Author: Nora Roberts

    Nora Roberts has had more bestsellers than anyone in the world, according to Publisher's Weekly. Roberts is an extraordinary romance novelist.


    Nora Roberts was born in Silver Spring Maryland, the youngest of five children. She married young and settled in Keedysville, Maryland.

    She worked briefly as a legal secretary. After her sons were born she stayed home and tried every craft that came along. A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six year old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.

    Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn't reading or making up stories. During the now famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.

    Nora met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Since that time, they've expanded their home, traveled the world and opened a bookstore together.

    Nora is a member of several writers groups and has won countless awards from her colleagues and the publishing industry. (Reprinted from

    Engaging the Enemy

    Two complete novels by Nora Roberts:

    A Will and a Way: It wasn't easy living with her infuriating co-beneficiary, Michael Donohue -- even to fulfill her uncle's last wishes -- but headstrong Pandora McVie found it still harder not falling in love with her nemesis.

    Boundary Lines: Feisty Jillian Baron and irresistibly arrogant Aaron Murdock seemed determined to carry their families' feud into another generation. But the battle waged within their own hearts pitted their mistrust against overwhelming desire.

    Sea Swept is the first book in the Sea Swept Trilogy by Nora Roberts. Sea Swept is about three men reunited at home by their adoptive fatherís death and last wish-- to care for Seth, their troubled 10-year-old adoptive brother. The three men are taught about family and responsibility even more than they ever dreamed possible.

    Cameron, Ethan, and Philip are very different, and of course, the brothers don't know anything about caring for a young boy. Social worker Anna Spinelli thinks this means Seth will be better off elsewhere, and as she works toward this end, she finds herself beginning to fall for one of the brothers.

    Rising Tides is the second in Robertsínewest trilogy. In this novel, Ethan is the main focus. He is determined to make a success out of the boatbuilding business. Boats were his fatherís passion. Ethan comes to many revelations about the woman that he has always loved and the dark past that he thought he left behind. If he can let go of that past, he can ensure a happy future.  This book had me on the edge of my seat. I couldnít wait to get my hands on number three in the trilogy. (JR)

    Inner Harbor, Book Three in the Seaswept Trilogy, finds Philip, the last unwed Quinn brother, juggling his advertising job and helping to care for his young adopted brother, Seth. Then the mysterious Dr. Sybill Griffin shows up. She claims to be researching their town for her next book, but it becomes apparent that she is really studying the three brothers.

    Phillip and Sybill find each other intriguing, but the secret connection to Seth that she hides may destroy any chance that the two young lovers have at happiness. "Full of heartwarming familial moments, tender romance, and a touch of tension, Inner Harbor is an outstanding conclusion to a truly stunning trilogy." (Excerpt Reprinted from Reviews.)

    More Romance from

    More Recommended books at:

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    - New and Upcoming Releases -

    Look for these exciting new books from Sirius Publications in Spring, 2003!

    Now Available:

    The Otherness by Tim Watts

    What if you discovered a gateway to the intangible and esoteric world which folklore calls fairyland? What if you felt your memory had been tampered with? And what if you remembered seeing fantastic machines that don't exist--in our reality?

    Passion's Prisoner by Tracy L. Ranson (Prequel to Bride of the Overlord)

    Isabeau thinks nothing of battling men and keeping her country free from danger, including Edward the Longshanks. What she did not count on was that his darkly handsome illegitimate son would lead the offending army.

    Kendrick and his half-brother, Prince Phillip of Wales, invaded her country on a bet. He expected her to cower before him, begging for mercy. Instead, she stood up to his every demand, refusing to back down. With her golden hair and seductive eyes, Isabeau fired his blood like no other woman.

    Though they had been each otherís captives, Isabeau and Kendrick cannot deny the growing feelings for each other. Amid this turmoil, they find love, only to have it threatened by schemes and lies designed by someone who has vowed to see Isabeau dead.

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    In our next issue:

    Theme: Fantasy

    Special Offer/Sale

    Answers from the Publisher

    Author Chat

    Sirius Recommends Book Reviews

    Author Contests and Workshops

    As always, please feel free to contact us with questions or comments.