Elizabeth: Conference Countdown

2014RWAAs Justine mentioned yesterday, the RWA National conference in San Antonio is just two weeks away. In preparation, I went through the list of workshops that will be offered to decide which ones I want to attend so I can make the most of my time there.

At the first RWA conference I went to in New York a few years back, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I had no real plan of action other than making it from the airport to the hotel without getting lost (and maybe making time for a quick trip to the Empire State Building). My goal was to see as much and learn as much as possible. I tried to fit in as many workshops, signings, and events as I could in three short days. It was a great conference, but not the same kind of experience I’m looking for this time around. Continue reading

Jilly: Desperately Seeking Oilmen, Cowboys, and Cattle Barons

Desperately Seeking Oilmen, Cowboys & Cattle BaronsI have another week of writing ahead of me (hoping for 10k, but I’ll take whatever I can get). When I’m done, I’m planning to indulge in the mother of all reading blitzes, and I’m on the hunt for recommendations.

RWA National is a couple of weeks away (yay!). Last year was my first time, and I had no clue what I was doing. We were in the middle of the final McDaniel module with deliverables to submit, I’d decided to rip my book apart and start again from scratch, and I was hip-deep in family problems at home. I had fun, but everything passed in a blur. This time around, Continue reading

Jilly: Still Life – A Quick Trick For Writing Character

Small still lifeIf you had to choose half a dozen objects to depict your life or a certain aspect of your life, what would they be? And what would your characters choose, for themselves and for each other? I did this exercise for real a couple of weeks ago, and the result is the picture to the left of this text.

The story started at RWA in Atlanta last year. My husband and I went to visit a friend who lives in the city, and I fell in love with a painting I saw at her house. It looked like traditional still life, but on closer inspection Continue reading

Jilly: Who’s Next?

Who's NextHow do you feel about series? Do you like it when a secondary character from one book becomes the hero or heroine of the next?

For me, it totally depends. Sequel bait is high on my list of no-nos, right up there with plot moppets and TSTL heroines, but when a character I’m already invested in gets their own story in a world I already know, I love it with a passion.

What really makes me snarl is when a new character suddenly pops up towards the end of a book. We’re at a critical stage in the plot or sometimes even in an epilogue and suddenly (WTF?) the heroine’s sister or the hero’s cousin arrives on some slender pretext and gets shoe-horned into the story Continue reading

Elizabeth: Characterization

characterThis summer I went to the RWA National conference in Atlanta and was lucky enough to attend a workshop by Susan Elizabeth Phillips about writing great characters.   She talked about creating well-motivated characters with strengths and weaknesses and strong individual voices.  She also emphasized the importance of showing those details rather than just telling them.

My favorite part of the workshop was an exercise we all did together to emphasize how simple details can reveal a lot about a character. Continue reading