Archive for the Writing News Category

RWA17 Con Recap (July 25-30, 2017)

I had a blast at RWA17! We arrived on Tuesday, and kicked things off with a group dinner at the Big River Grill, within walking distance of the Swan Hotel. Being surrounded by my peeps (other writers) is the best feeling ever. They get me. They understand. I don’t have to explain.

Wednesday, I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in far too long, for a lovely lunch at Fresh Market, inside the Dolphin Hotel. It was a great salad, but the desserts were to die for! And, Wednesday night was the long-awaited DEATH BY CHOCOLATE party, hosted by the Kiss of Death chapter.

I dressed up in all my finery, full makeup, hair and gown, and made the trek from the Swan over to the Dolphin. Yeah, you guessed it, the Florida heat didn’t look good on me. But I pressed on, knowing I would soon be drowning in chocolate. Uh, not so much. The only chocolate to be found at the party was a chocolate dipped strawberry. That meager serving was a little disappointing, but the party was not. I received Honorable Mention for my romantic suspense novel, CRIMINAL HEAT! And, cheered for my good friend, Lena Diaz, who won her FOURTH Daphne! She is the Daphne Queen!

Thursday, I attended the PRO Retreat, and was moved to tears by Alyssa Day’s wonderful talk about “Writing and Mental Health”. The Retreat was well organized with round table discussions and lots of prizes, as well as food!

Unfortunately, I missed the Rita’s on Thursday night. My mother was in a car accident and I had to go home and make sure she was okay. Thank goodness, she is, but it was scary there for a while. Can I just say my husband is my hero? He dropped everything and came to get me. And my roommates are amazingly supportive, wondrous women I am privileged to know.

I made it back to the con in time for Editor/Agent appointments on Friday. I came away with three requests! Next up, THE GATHERING, hosted by the FF&P chapter. My friend, Debra Jess, took third place in the Novella category of the PRISM AWARD with A SECRET ROSE. Super proud of her! And, I finished the day with a room party, hosted by Lena. So fun!

Saturday morning, I attended the Chapter Leadership Breakfast where I met other chapter leaders and soaked up a ton of great information. This was also well organized, and so beneficial.

During the conference, I attended some exceptionally good panels. I will mention two of my faves: Anything by Geoff Symon, and “Locked and Loaded: Pulling the Trigger on Military RS”: Lynn Raye Harris, Cristin Harber, and Laura Kaye.

The big finale came all too soon as we roamed around the Literacy Autographing with hundreds of authors. I’m proud to say that over $40,000 was raised for literacy. Romance writers are givers, and we need all the readers we can get!

I’m thrilled to announce that my romantic suspense novel, CRIMINAL HEAT, is a Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense finalist!

I simply can’t wait to attend the Kiss of Death Chapter’s DEATH BY CHOCOLATE party at RWA National in Orlando in July!

I attended the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolia’s conference October 10-12 with Volusia County Romance Writers chapter mates and friends, Carla Mueller and Diane Burke. The very first night at the bar, I ordered the hotel restaurant’s signature drink called The Cherokee Rose. It would not be the last time….

The next morning, I was happy to find First Coast Romance Writers chapter mate, Marie Long at breakfast as well as new friend, Kim Castle. And then it was time for my pitch workshop hosted by Maggie Finalist, and ultimate Maggie winner, Jennifer Delemare. Did I luck out or what?

Immediately after, it was time to put my pitches to work. I met with literary agent, Nalini Akolekar, who requested partials of both my romantic suspense and paranormal work. Way to start the day. After many excellent workshops, I ventured off to my second agent meeting of the day. Stefanie Lieberman requested I send her a sample of my romantic suspense.

I finished out the day at Mambo Italiano joined by friends, Marie Long, Carla Mueller, Diane Burke, and Kim Castle. The servers wore T-shirts that said, “The taste that makes you want to mambo!” Much laughter and good food, combined with live music, sent me to bed happy.

The next day, I met with Sourcebooks editor, Mary Altman. I had so much fun pitching to her and she requested both manuscripts as well. Three appointments, five requests =Yay me! To celebrate, you guessed it, another Cherokee Rose. I think I deserved it.

I know the next question, what’s hot? At the agent/editor panel, I heard they are looking for M/M Military Romance, ménage, and Civil War Romance. Vampires are dead. LOL! Still open to werewolves, but paranormal is currently a soft sell. Sue Grimshaw predicted historicals are starting to make a comeback and will be hot again within the next two years. They are currently looking for Western historical, highlanders, and modern day cowboys.

The last day of the conference was all about writing love scenes your readers won’t skip. During Roni Loren’s workshop, we were asked to share the most memorable love scenes from books or movies. Pretty much any movie with Patrick Swayze qualified. Who can forget the scene from Ghost, making clay? And Dirty Dancing? Did someone turn on the heat? Thank God for that paddle fan included in the goodie bags. Whew!

We finished off the day with a trip to the local movie theater and Dracula Untold. Great job of mixing traditional mythology with actual history. I loved it and hope there will be a sequel. To top it all off, I came home to some unexpected news. After judging my contest entry, Cheryl Yeko of Soul Mate Publishing requested my full manuscript. I hit send on all my submissions this afternoon and now feel in need of a stiff drink! Oh Cherokee Rose, wherefore art thou?

2014 is here and it started off with the flu. First I had it, then my children. Thankfully, my husband has alien DNA and is immune. As you can imagine, all my wondrous plans for implementing new goals went by the wayside. To say I’ve been discouraged would be a vast understatement.

Yet despite all the obstacles in my path, the flu was one of many, the universe was sending me a message. I didn’t hear it at first, but it all came clear today.  FCRW chapter mate, Alesia Holiday shared a link to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s inspiring speech from the 2011 RWA® National Conference. Do yourself a favor and read it. It really spoke to me.

Previous to this, I saw the movie, Lone Survivor and read the book the movie is based on by Marcus Luttrell, the one Navy SEAL who survived Operation Redwing. The movie is awe inspiring, but the book broke my heart. I was literally crying for the loss of such wonderful men, but mostly for the bond they shared and their never say die spirit. They are always in the fight.  I thank God for men like Marcus and his brothers and they will never be forgotten by me.

I added this together, and while writers and warriors have very different jobs, our attitude needs to be the same. You can’t give up, you can’t quit, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how insurmountable the odds. And you need a support system. Like the brotherhood of the SEAL teams, writers need other writers to succeed. Every time you support another writer, you’re supporting yourself.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

  1. Rejection letters – So you’re cruising along on your current WIP and you get the dreaded rejection letter.  I could write a whole blog post on the different kinds, but they all have the same effect, the writing stops. What to do? Call, email, or text all your writing friends. Whine, complain, rant, have a pity party. Give it a day or two before you get back in the saddle. And yes, I do mean SUBMIT your work elsewhere.  The only way to fail is to give up.
  2. Negative critique – You think your book is the best thing you’ve ever written and happily send it out to critique partners and contests. The results are not pretty. Why is it that we focus on the negative comments rather than the positive? Read the critique, set it aside, have a drink or some chocolate or both. Go back to it after it’s had time to settle. Look for the same complaints from more than one person. Make note of it. Take what speaks to you and will make your work better, let the rest go.
  3. Family drama – I don’t think this needs much explanation.  We all have it, and we all have to deal with it. The truth is your family comes first. Even if you can’t write, read. Stay in writing mode. Think about your work, look up pictures of your hero and heroine, or fill out GMC charts. This way, when the opportunity presents itself, you’re ready to rock!
  4. Health issues – You are literally so ill, or in so much pain, that the last thing you want to do is write. Again, do what you can, even if it’s just watching movies or shows on TV. You can pick apart the story structure and think how it applies to your own work.  And, you can people watch.  See someone who would be a great character? Write it down, figure out where they fit later.
  5. Fear – The most insidious and the hardest to combat.  This can stop you cold. If you don’t write, you don’t have to submit. If you don’t submit, you don’t have to face rejection or critique. The only way to defeat fear is to face it, head on.  Fear is never going away, but we can face it with courage.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain

 

 

Change is growth. I heard Sharon Sala say this during her talk at the recent ACRA Conference. She said a lot of things that stuck with me, but this one, I am struggling to implement. I’ve been a stay at home mom since my son was born in 1988. In 1997, I joined RWA and started seriously pursuing a career in publishing. In 2003, I began working part-time at the YMCA as a fitness instructor. What am I trying to say? For the last twenty five years, there haven’t been many changes in my life.

Now, my children are adults. I don’t need to stay home and take care of them. I am still with the YMCA and RWA. I am stagnant. While the people around me are changing, I am stuck and unsure of how to move forward. I’m sure many moms have faced this and I’d love to hear what worked for you. At present, I feel lost. When the main job in your life has been motherhood, how do you decide what’s next?

I want to be a successful published author traveling around the country, attending conferences, meeting other writers, and connecting with readers. That’s the dream. But I am still waiting for the call. How do I change and grow in the meantime?

Avast, Mateys! This past weekend I attended the Ancient City Romance Authors Conference in historic St. Augustine, Florida complete with Captain Jack Sparrow and a Pirate Museum Tour. The conference was well run and featured speakers who imparted a wealth of knowledge, but the highlight had to be the exceptional Sharon Sala.

We started off Friday morning after pictures with Captain Jack and a dip into a treasure chest full of chocolate. Our first speaker, editing specialist Nancy Quatrano started us off with a bang, followed by the tag team of comedy, Dolores Wilson and Kathyrn Bain. Marge Smith AKA Elizabeth Sinclair capped off the morning session with her talk on The Dreaded Synopsis and then it was off to lunch followed by a tour at the Pirate Museum led by Captain Mayhem himself.

But that’s not all. No, the day was not over. We returned to the hotel for a scrumptious bounty of food laid out by Dolores Wilson who is certainly a culinary genius. And then it was pitch time. I had the pleasure of spending time with Agent Amie Flanagan of the Sullivan Maxx Agency.  And yes, it ended with a request!

Saturday morning, we met for breakfast and then it was the Sharon Sala show. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed listening to Sharon. I can tell why she’s such a good writer. Even when she just talks to you, she evokes so much emotion and knows just how to reach in and twist your heart strings. I was enthralled. Sharon spoke on a range of topics from self publishing to the things she wished she’d known before she became published. However, the one thing she said that I will not forget: The power to succeed is to believe in yourself.  This is so true and something every writer struggles to do. The gremlins of self doubt must be crushed!

I roomed with Captain Connie Mann and Quartermaster, Carla Mueller. We were having so much fun that Carla and I decided to stay an extra night and go on the Halloween Express Ghost Tour. What a scream! Sunday, we visited with chapter mate, Gloria Ferguson in her new St. Augustine home. We had lunch at the South Side Grill in Crescent Beach. Good food, view, and got to see a gopher turtle chowing down on some leaves.

We capped off the day back at Gloria’s where we encountered the resident ghost and did a little ghostbusting…Yes, you read that right. Do you believe in ghosts? Tell me your stories. I’d love to hear them.

 

 

Lately, I’ve been asked one question a lot by editors and agents, “How long have you been writing?” I hate this question because I don’t want to answer. I’m embarrassed to say, “Oh, I started seriously writing in 1997 and I’m still not published.” And while a true statement, it leaves out a lot of details.

I joined RWA in 1997 and attended my first National Conference in Orlando that same year. I didn’t have a clue. Through the years, I’ve been active. I joined my local chapter, found a critique group, volunteered and served my chapter at the board level, and yes, became a professional writer.

As the years went on, I finaled and won contests, attended workshops and conferences, and came very close to selling, but no cigar. I’ve had the “good” rejection letters, had full requests, garnered the interest of some big name editors and agents, but I still have not sold a book. Why? I’m still trying to figure that out, but I am not giving up.

So, how do I answer this particular question? I put some thought into it and here’s what I came up with: My first book, bound and covered, was titled, “The Adventures of Roland the Pig”. I was in the third grade and the cover art was my own. Unfortunately, this epic tale has been lost to the ages, misplaced during one of my many moves.

Another true statement, but this time, it’s positive and funny. What do you think? How would you answer this question?

Yesterday, I attended the VCRW/CFRW sponsored Super Saturday featuring Roxanne St. Claire, Lucienne Diver, and Lorena Streeter. It was a smashing success. It had it all: Excellent Speakers, Cold Reads and Agent Appointments, Basket and Critique Raffles, and finally, an author booksigning. Yes, VCRW is my home chapter, so I am a bit biased. However, it was much more than that.

Here’s my takeaway from yesterday. Writers need other writers. My best friends are writers, and being at an event filled with them nurtures my soul. When our President came down with the flu, members stepped in to help without even being asked. We all worked together, overcame every obstacle, and made sure our Super Saturday was one of the best ever. I came home feeling uplifted, renewed, and ready to kick butt!

My point? Don’t sit home in your writing cave. Join a writers group, attend writing events, connect and share. The winner will be you!

FAITH, NOT FEAR. This is my new motto. For too long I’ve allowed my own lack of confidence in my writing abilities to hold me back. Fear, and I will call it by its name, has caused me to miss opportunities and drop a lot of balls. Maybe I would be published by now if I had not allowed fear to rule my decision making.

At the 2013 RWA ® National Conference in Atlanta, Cathy Maxwell shared a story about a young artist who never signed his paintings because he didn’t think they were good enough. This spoke to me.  How many times have I hesitated to submit my work because I doubted myself? How many times did I fail to follow up on a ‘good’ rejection letter or a call for submissions because I was afraid to fail? No more.

It’s time to be fearless, to put myself out there, confident that I am a good writer and that my work is good enough. I’m taking chances without fear. Rejection will not stop me. I will continue to submit, revise, and repeat until my dream comes true. What about you?

Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1