Elizabeth: Golden Heart® Public Service Announcement

RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading the blog recently, several of the 8Ladies buffed and polished up manuscripts and entered them in this year’s RWA Golden Heart Contest.  It’s the last year of the contest, which may been just the extra motivation they needed to get those words flowing and stories finished.   Best of luck to all who entered the contest.

I have been a Golden Heart contest judge since my earliest days in RWA.  In addition to supporting the organization, contest judging can be a learning experience for the contest judge as well as the entrant.  I have often found that mistakes I don’t see in my own writing, or concepts that just don’t make sense in my own head, can be startlingly clear when reading someone else’s entry.  Plus, you get the chance to read some really good stories that you might otherwise never have seen. Continue reading

Justine: Leaving Well Enough Alone

“The more we stur a tourde, the wours it will stynke.” So said J. Heywood in the 1546 Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue. How true is that? I have muddied around with the first several chapters of my book for MONTHS now, but as the Golden Heart deadline approached on Friday, I found myself having to follow the equally proverbial “fish or cut bait.”

In other words, I had to make whatever changes I could get done before the deadline, then send it off on its merry way. (I have few hopes of finaling, but I thought because it’s the last time RWA will hold the Golden Heart–the “Academy Awards” of romance writing for unpublished authors–I should give it a go.)

When I finished my submission, and in conjunction with my Word Of The Year (which is DEADLINES), I told my husband that I was not going to touch those first five chapters again. And he made me sign THIS:

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So it’s moving forward, starting with Chapter 6 and going until it’s done and I turn it in to my editor.

Do you put a stake in the ground when it comes to your MS? Do you only allow a certain number of revisions to a given chapter?

Michaeline: Three Questions for Jeanne Oates Estridge about her professional debut!

snake winding its way around a practical female hand holding an apple

The Demon Always Wins (image via Amazon)

Today marks a red letter day for us: not only is our blog celebrating five years of existence, but one of our Ladies is publishing her first book today. Jeanne Oates Estridge started The Demon Always Wins in May 2012 in response to the popular Twilight series.

I got to read an early version of it in the McDaniel course for romance writing during the 2012 school year, but lots of people have seen the book in progress. Jeanne mentions her long-time critique group, as well as a group of writers known as The Cool Kids that she met at the Midwest Writers Workshop, members of a one-day workshop in Indianapolis with Lucrecia Guerrero, several of the Eight Ladies and a handful of beta readers. Whew! It takes a village, doesn’t it?

The book was a finalist in all of the five contests Jeanne entered it in, and won the 2015 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award in the paranormal romance category with an earlier incarnation called Demons Don’t. The sequel, The Demon’s in the Details, was also a finalist in the 2018 paranormal romance category of the Golden Heart. Another version of The Demon Always Wins won first place in the paranormal/SF/fantasy category of the 2015 Diamonds in the Desert contest under the name of Demon’s Wager.

Having read the latest version, I can tell you the book has evolved from good to great over the years – the words are different, but they stay true to the underlying story. But enough from me. Let’s ask Jeanne a few questions!

8LW: We did the McDaniel course for romance writing together in 2012-2013, instructed by best-selling romance writer Jennifer Crusie. What lesson from the class had the most impact on your final book? Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Fate of the Golden Heart

RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

One of the clearest memories I have about the very first RWA conference I went to was the Golden Heart award ceremony.  I hadn’t known what the contest was all about before I attended the conference, but afterwards, entering the contest (and winning, of course!) went on the writing project plan, somewhere between “finish the manuscript” and “find an agent” – and seemed a sure stepping-stone to “see my book on the shelf at the local bookstore.”

The woman I sat next to in several workshop sessions, as well as at the awards dinner, turned out to be the winner in one of the contemporary categories.  When she accepted her award, she confidentially ended her thanks with, “all you agents out there, have I got a book for you.”  I was sure that, had I remembered her name, I’d have found her book out in the bookstore in short-order after her win.

Oh, for those wide-eyed innocent days. Continue reading

Jilly: Five Great Writing Craft Resources

What are your go-to references for improving your chosen skill–creative, mechanical, sporting, whatever’s important to you?

I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t spend any more money on writing craft—no books, workshops, courses or conferences—unless I come across something exceptional. It’s not that my writing is so good I don’t need it, but that I already have a great collection of resources at my fingertips and I’ve only scratched the surface of most of them.

Even if I write for another 20 years (and I intend to), I bet I could find the answers to 99.9% of my craft problems on my current bookshelf or the internet. My challenge is to digest all that great advice, evaluate it, select the bits that I need most in order to power up my strengths, bolster my weaknesses, and widen my skill-set, and apply those lessons until they become second nature.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in this post that I was surprised to discover how much I’ve absorbed about the process of self-publishing. I’ve also learned that some craft resources hit the spot for me, while other famous names slide through my brain and out again, leaving no trace. I had fun choosing my favorite indie publishing resources, so I decided to play the same game with the writing craft references. I found it surprisingly easy to pick the ones I believe will support my writing journey all the way to the pearly gates.

Your mileage may vary (I’d love to know!), but here are my choices: Continue reading

Jilly: Ten Great Indie Publishing Resources

One of the most interesting changes at this year’s RWA National conference was the increased focus on indie publishing. For me, the timing was excellent.

Four years ago, when I attended my first Nationals, I was only vaguely aware of self-publishing. I fully intended to pursue a traditional publishing career and I found plenty of workshops to help me understand the role of agent and editor, to perfect my pitch, and to polish my query letter.

As I started submitting to agents and entering contests with my dream industry judges, I also began to seek out sources of information to educate myself about the industry I was planning to join. To my amazement I found a freely available treasure trove of solid, actionable information and over the last couple of years I’ve gradually come to believe that independent publishing will be a better match for my personal priorities, timelines and ambitions.

I attended a number of the indie-focused workshops in Orlando, and I was surprised to discover how much I already knew. So instead of recapping my learnings from the conference, I thought perhaps I should share the online resources I find most valuable: Continue reading

Jilly: Don’t Leave Your Story in the Cold Over the Holidays

dont-leave-your-story-in-the-coldCan you believe it’s December already? How’s your month looking? Busy?

May I add something to your schedule? Earmark a few minutes each day – five, ten, fifteen, whatever you can shoehorn in – to make sure your story doesn’t get lost in the seasonal brouhaha.

Even for a holiday humbug like me, December is a time sink. It was worse when I had a day job – closing the payroll ten days early with the extra headache of bonuses to calculate and pay; a year end to prepare for; and in the middle of the financial scramble, parties to organize and/or attend for staff, clients and suppliers.

I’m glad I don’t have to do that any more. My life is also relatively quiet on the family front, but my calendar is still filling up. Multiple catch-ups with friends and ex-colleagues who are home for the holidays. A birthday trip to see the Abstract Expressionists at the Royal Academy. A night at the theatre. A few days with my mum, even though she doesn’t really know it’s Christmas anymore. Visits on mum’s behalf to her friends and ex-neighbors. A haircut. Gift and grocery shopping. A rare opportunity to see my expat brother, who’s flying home for a couple of weeks.

In the midst of all this activity, my immediate writing priority Continue reading