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

Kay: Back to School at the Writers’ Police Academy

“Pistol Pencil” by Liam Wolf, 2014. dribbble.com/neopeaks

I got derailed on my WIP this past week—a project turned up that needed my undivided attention, but until that happened, I’d been going great guns on my story. I was closing in on the finish, I know what needs to happen, I’m getting it down on paper. So that’s been great after that long period a while back when I’d write 500 words every day and delete 1,000. Those were dark times.

I want to finish this one soon; I have a third book planned in a trilogy and I’m ready to move on altogether, away from these characters, even though I haven’t finished book two and book three is barely in the planning stages. Until those three books are done, I’d decided that I’d take no more classes, attend no more conferences except RWA, and sign up for no more workshops. It’s not that I know everything, it’s that I don’t need another class to finish a book. I know what I have to do, and that’s sit down and write the dang thing. I have a couple of other books that have been patiently waiting to be written, all of which are a lot different than this current trilogy and include real FBI stuff, guns, and drama.

So you’ll understand my dilemma when I ran across the Writers’ Police Academy. It looks like fun. You get to drive fast! And shoot! And learn about forensics! And it looks like other fun stuff. And it’s in my home state, so I could visit people while I’m there. It’s filling up fast—they’re already booking into the overflow hotel. What do you think? Should I go?

Want to come with?

 

Elizabeth: Writer Conferences

This summer, Romance Writers of America (RWA) will be holding their national conference in Orlando, Florida.  I had initially intended to skip this conference, planning instead to be in studying in Oxford at that time.  Regrettably however, the class I enrolled in was cancelled (gasp!) and my second choice – “Lovers and Libertines, Spinsters and Spendthrifts, Radicals and Reformers:  The Treatment of Love and Money in Selected 19th Century Novels” – was full.  Who’d have thought it?

Oxford’s loss was Orlando’s gain and I was able to register for the RWA conference and, amazingly, book a room at the conference hotel.  This week the preliminary list of conference workshops was released, so I’ve been going through them, deciding which ones I want to attend so I can make the most of my conference investment. Continue reading

Jilly: A Very Important Kiss

A Very Important KissDo you agree that in the right circumstances a single kiss could be an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending to the first book of a fantasy paranormal romance series?

No prizes for guessing which particular fantasy paranormal romance series I’m talking about 😉 .

This week, in between birthday and Christmas partying, I’ve been tweaking the first 50 pages of my WIP for entry into the RWA’s Golden Heart contest.

This story is very different from anything I’ve written before, and I want to make sure I don’t trip myself up on the GH deal-breakers.

In addition to assigning an overall score, first-round GH judges are asked to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions:

  • Does the entry contain a central love story?
  • Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

If three judges answer ‘no’ to either question, the entry is disqualified. Which would be hugely disappointing, to say the least. Continue reading

Jilly: Observations of a Contest Judge

Observations of a Contest JudgeI finally finished my last round of contest judging for this year. Not before time 🙂

I try to give all entries two or three reads and offer honest, constructive, actionable feedback. It’s time-consuming but from a purely selfish perspective it’s worth the effort. I learn something valuable every time. Last year I read a couple of outstanding entries. I posted about that recently (Storyteller v Smooth Writer).

This year I’ve read a lot of competent writing, grammatically correct, properly punctuated, with interesting characters and an intriguing premise. I don’t think I’ve read a single story that would tempt me to keep reading by the end of the pages, let alone a book that I’d shell out money for.

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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

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Michille: The Courage to Write

the-courage-to-writeOne of the things that several of us 8L have said over the last months is that we won’t buy anymore craft books/take anymore craft classes until we have finished what we already have. In that vein, I did eeny-meeny on my craft bookshelf and chose The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes, almost at random (because I have too many to choose from). The very first chapter is called Elements of Courage. It made me feel strong just reading that. There are some funny sections throughout the book like Page Fright, That Naked Feeling, Counterphobia, and Draft Dodgers. Continue reading