Michille: Preparing to Attend a Writers’ Conference

RWA 2017RWA National Conference is fast approaching. So it’s time to start prepping for it. Of course, getting the conference schedule is a top priority and deciding which sessions to go to, which to avoid. I’m not pitching this year, or I’d be working on that. I suck at elevator pitches and tag/log line type descriptions so creating those is torture. In order to make sure I’m not forgetting anything, I googled to find some internet advice. Continue reading

Elizabeth: A Reminder to be Kind

Happy or sad? Are you sure you can tell the difference? © Disney PhotoPass

Happy or sad? Are you sure you can tell the difference?
© Disney PhotoPass

As 2016 continues its bobsled race to the finish line, there’s a lot going on.  If the internet is any indication, there is a frenzy of shopping, baking, traveling and holiday-related socializing, not to mention end-of year work-related projects and deadlines to meet.

Andy Williams may sing that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year but that’s not true for everyone.

Among all that glittering gaiety, there are people who are tired, over-extended, stressed, lonely, and even depressed, so it’s a good time to take a step back, take a breath, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Continue reading

Nancy: Writing Is Our Superpower

The times, they are a-changin'.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Wow, what a week.

As I sat down to compose this post, it was hard to know where to begin, how to find my way into writing the true-life story I’ve lived this past week. Last Monday, at 6 AM, I was on a plane from Baltimore to Boston. Within hours, I’d met a stranger who became a fast friend who was willing to pick me up at Logan airport at 7:30 AM, had shared breakfast and lunch with more new friends I’d just met, and was passing my phone around a table so these wonderful people could put their phone numbers into my contacts so we could stay in touch during our week together. No, I had not joined a commune or entered some weird alternate reality where strangers are your new best friends. Well…maybe I had. I had entered the Writers Unboxed Un-Conference.

With my own personal favorite mentors like Lisa Cron and Donald Maass, and authors/teachers such as Cathy Yardley, Kathryn Craft, and Barbara O’Neal (just to name a few) presenting deep-dive, hands-on workshops, this was already on track to be a writing-changing experience. I thought the writing workshops would be the thing that rocked my world last week. Oh, innocent, optimistic, naïve Nancy of November 7, how I miss you.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you as a card-carrying member of Pantsuit Nation, I wanted our country to make history in a very different way last Tuesday. When the exact opposite of my hopes happened, it triggered stages of grief – shock, anger, depression – on an endless loop. The majority (but not all!) of the conference attendees had a similar reaction. Perhaps it was because we’d self-selected to be part of a group of people whom we intuitively sensed were ‘on the same side’.  Perhaps it was because writers are empaths by nature; putting ourselves in the shoes of ‘the other’ is fundamental to our writing process, and there are many ‘others’ who have legitimate fears given the outcome of this election. This shared grief created a strange, bubble-wrapped enclave where we could rant, cry, and  – eventually – begin to heal.

“Community is a flashlight on a dark road. It keeps us pointed ahead.” – Risa Edwins, participant, WU Un-Conference 2016

Continue reading

Michaeline: The Election and the Future of the U.S. Writing Market

"The future is escapist fantasy." If the shoe fits, wear it. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

“The future is escapist fantasy.” If the shoe fits, wear it. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . .”

Think about it. Fifty-nine million people got the lesser of two evils. Fifty-nine million people got the greater of two evils. America is divided about evenly, and there’s a whole spectrum of thought and opinion. So, if you want to write a white hero-guy who kicks poor, brown ass and enjoys his Budweiser, there’s a market for that. If you want to write a diverse cast of characters, fighting The Man like time-travelling hippies and enjoying a little recreational marijuana, there’s a market for that. I predict that escapist fantasy is going to have a heyday. Why? Continue reading

Jilly: Hooked by the Olympics

Hooked by the OlympicsWhat have you been up to this week?

I got back from Scotland on Tuesday evening to a mountain of laundry and a couple of real life annoyances. Dealing with those took me until Thursday morning, and then the decks were clear for me to get back to my romantic fantasy WIP.

At least, that was the idea.

Elizabeth reported earlier this week that her Girls in the Basement had absconded and were presumed drinking Margaritas on a beach somewhere, leaving her to stare at a blank page. My Girls are here, but I can’t seem to get them under control. They spent ten days in Scotland spinning off idea after idea for my contemporary Gilded Lily series, which is exciting but doesn’t help with my long list of current story questions. Now they’re busy sparking off the Olympics, which is even less productive. Still, it’s a fascinating, once-every-four-years spectacle, so I’ve decided to go with the flow for one more day, until the end of the weekend.

The great thing about the Olympics is that it’s more than a showcase of world-class sports from the familiar to the mind-bogglingly esoteric. The event is built on human endeavor, triumph and disaster, which makes it a story masterclass. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Continue reading

Michille: Love Between the Covers

Love Between the CoversLove Between the Covers is a documentary film about the romance community. I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the film along with a Q&A with Laurie Kahn, the film’s director. For three years, the crew followed the lives of five published romance authors and one unpublished one and explored topics including the romance community, writing methods, publishing, industry change, and, of course, why the heck is it so popular, yet largely ignored. The big question of “How can a billion dollar industry by women, for women, about women, get so little respect?” was not answered, but was acknowledged and addressed by several of the interviewees. I can’t remember which author said something like, “we pay the bills for the whole fiction industry.” Continue reading

Kay: Love Between the Covers

Love between the coversPerhaps you’ve heard of Love Between the Covers.  It’s an 84-minute documentary film by Emmy award-winning director Laurie Kahn, released in 2015, about the romance industry. She looks at the history, popularity, and even the business of romance readers and writers—from how romance fiction outsells all other genres of writing, to why it’s dismissed as frivolous. It’s a funny and inspiring look into a billion-dollar industry, fueled by writers who push the discussion on gender, race, sexuality, and diversity.

Romance fiction has received serious attention from academics in the last few years—from conferences at Princeton to the University of San Diego—because, as Jayne Ann Krenz says in the film, popular fiction upholds the culture’s core values. And many readers credit reading romance when they talk about overcoming the stresses of illness, divorce, loss of a loved one—even abuse and violence. That’s serious therapy.

Love Between the Covers has been reviewed from Library Journal to Hollywood Reporter, and now the film has been highlighted at RH Reality Check, a daily publication that provides news, commentary, and analysis on sexual and reproductive health and justice issues. Written by Eleanor J. Bader, a teacher, freelance writer, and activist from Brooklyn, NY, the article discusses “How Romance Novels ‘Imagine a World in Which Women Can Win.’” It’s inspiring to think that an organization that fights for sexual and reproductive health can see the value of romance fiction—a world in which, as Jenny Crusie says in the film, “women can have sex without dying.” Check out the article here.