Thursday, January 31, 2008

STEPPING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

When was the last time you intentionally stepped outside your comfort zone? To try a different way of doing something. To do something you hadn't done before. To grow and challenge yourself.

I'm not talking about being forced to change. I'm talking about saying, "I'm going to drive a different way to work just to get a fresh perspective." Or "I'm going to meet my word count goal BEFORE I check e-mails or play that addicting new game." Or perhaps "I don't like how the government operates, so I'm going run for the senate."

Yes, I confess, I have control freak tendencies. No big surprise to those of you who have known me for a while. Responsibilities or projects have to be pried out of my hands one dug-in fingernail at a time. Many, many years ago in my first job as a supervisor, my staff started teaching me this lesson. I guess I'm a slow learner in this area, because 20-some years later, I'm still learning to let go.

For me, this is one of those contradictory lessons. The more I learn to let go, the more control I have. I quit trying to force my writing career into the direction of being published by a big New York publisher and garnered contracts for three books with an e-book publisher -- where I am able to design my own covers, write my own back cover blurbs, etc., etc. Some would consider this more work, but I like the control it gives me with my book. :)

I'm discovering this in other areas of my life too. I recently resigned from a part-time job I loved and that gave me a cushion of financial security to set up a dog rescue/sanctuary, which some say will gobble up every penny I can find. Does this mean I've learned the lesson of letting go and that I did it without being forced to? Uh, not exactly.

This new venture is something I can't NOT do. I also know it's big enough to need the Energy of many, so I'm trusting the Universe to deliver in that area. In the meantime, I'm taking those sometimes small but stead steps toward my goal. I do sometimes drive a different way across town or coming home. And I am challenging myself to finish one project at a time without getting sidetracked by a dozen other tempting ideas.

How about you? Do you dive into a challenge without worrying whether or not it will succeed? Do you dive in after you have prepared as well as you can? Or do you snuggle at home with a good book and ignore the challenges knocking at your door?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

STEPPING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

When was the last time you intentionally stepped outside your comfort zone? To try a different way of doing something. To do something you hadn't done before. To grow and challenge yourself.

I'm not talking about being forced to change. I'm talking about saying, "I'm going to drive a different way to work just to get a fresh perspective." Or "I'm going to meet my word count goal BEFORE I check e-mails or play that addicting new game." Or perhaps "I don't like how the government operates, so I'm going run for the senate."

Yes, I confess, I have control freak tendencies. No big surprise to those of you who have known me for a while. Responsibilities or projects have to be pried out of my hands one dug-in fingernail at a time. Many, many years ago in my first job as a supervisor, my staff started teaching me this lesson. I guess I'm a slow learner in this area, because 20-some years later, I'm still learning to let go.

For me, this is one of those contradictory lessons. The more I learn to let go, the more control I have. I quit trying to force my writing career into the direction of being published by a big New York publisher and garnered contracts for three books with an e-book publisher -- where I am able to design my own covers, write my own back cover blurbs, etc., etc. Some would consider this more work, but I like the control it gives me with my book. :)

I'm discovering this in other areas of my life too. I recently resigned from a part-time job I loved and that gave me a cushion of financial security to set up a dog rescue/sanctuary, which some say will gobble up every penny I can find. Does this mean I've learned the lesson of letting go and that I did it without being forced to? Uh, not exactly.

This new venture is something I can't NOT do. I also know it's big enough to need the Energy of many, so I'm trusting the Universe to deliver in that area. In the meantime, I do sometimes drive a different way across town or coming home. And I am challenging myself to finish one project at a time without getting sidetracked by a dozen other tempting ideas.

How about you? Do you dive into a challenge without worrying whether or not it will succeed? Do you dive in after you have prepared as well as you can? Or do you snuggle at home with a good book and ignore the challenges knocking at your door?

THE HEART OF THE FOREST

Question: Do you know when something you've written is good? Can you tell?

As long as I've been writing, I've been in a hurry to get something to an editor. Pretty much as soon as it's done, it's off and I'm on to another project (or lately, collapsed in a chair somewhere contemplating my naval.)

This comes home to me at the end of every book when I write a note to the editor to accompany the manuscript and it invariably says something along the lines of, "Please let me know if this works. I honestly can't tell. I can fix it if it doesn't, but I just don't know."

A story is such a wandering journey. So much of it is nuance. There's a fine line between saying too much and not saying enough. Add twisting plots, mysteries within mysteries, feelings darting all over the map, secrets, half truths and all the rest and it gets pretty dense inside a book, like traveling through the lightly wooded outskirts of a forest full of deciduous trees deeper and deeper until the evergreen trees are so thick they block the light. By the end of writing a book, that's where you've been, in the heart of the forest, and even though you've found your way out again, is it possible you left those who made the journey with you stranded inside?

I used to have my daughter read the completed book before I sent it, but she's busier now and besides, my editor has to read it, then the copyeditor and then me two more times before it sees print. I trust one of us will figure out if the beast has a heart, but who knows? Critique partners can be invaluable, but at the end of the day, it's one person's opinion, right? That's true for the writer, the editor, the agent, the reader. One opinion at a time.

So, do you know? Can you tell if your book is good? How?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tis the season for new books

Before I get into the topic I am going to talk about - today is a snow day!!! Woooo! Yeaahhhh! I'm faking the enthusiasm a bit. See, I'm the person at work who lets the media know if we have a late start or a day off due to weather. That means I get a call at 5 or 5:30 and I begin my work. Today we had a 2 hour late start. Since I was up at 5 looking at the snow level, anticipating whether or not I'd get the call, I figured it was pointless to try for more sleep. Luckily it was pretty outside!

















Now back to our regularly scheduled blog...

The season I'm referring to in the title is not the holidays "season." I'm talking about the season for new book releases. I don't know about you, but it seems that the beginning of 2008 is full of new books I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on. Ok, my hands aren't grubby or little.

My excitement began weeks ago when I was adding anthropology books to my Amazon wishlist (so I can monitor the used prices and keep track of books I want). Then I noticed the recommendations feature. Have you ever used it? It's amazing. The recommendations are pretty darn good. I began adding some of my favorite romance novels to my "already own" list, so I could get some romance recommendations.

It would recommend books I already own, and love. That's what gave me confidence in this system. You can just check a box that says you own a book, then you can refresh your recommendations. One of my favorite book series is the Argeneau vampire novels by Lynsay Sands. Amazon showed three upcoming releases in the series! I couldn't believe it. No really, I couldn't believe it. They were back to back like a Nora Roberts trilogy. I didn't think the dates were right. I mean, how many authors have monthly releases in their single title series? The most I've commonly seen is one every six months. This series is usually yearly or six months I believe.

I went to her Web site and sure enough, Amazon was right! OMG! Three new Argeneau books! I recently picked up the first one. Devoured it, LOVED it. I laughed the whole way through it - Accidental Vampire is one of the best in the series. The next one comes out tomorrow, Vampires Are Forever, then one in a month, Vampire, Interrupted.

Amazon also told me that a new Kerrilyn Sparks book is coming out, The Undead Next Door. I like her series as well. A bit of a wait, but Michelle Rowen (love her!) has Lady & The Vamp coming out on April 1. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has the paperback version of Natural Born Charmer coming out on February 1. The depressing part is - that's all that's listed for her! No upcoming releases! Gasp! I need me some SEP!

When it comes to book buying, my biggest problem is remembering to check and see when my favorite authors have books coming out. I bought a little notebook from Borders (it has books on the cover, hehe) and I've written in it books I want to buy when they come out and favorite authors to watch out for. I've also created a spreadsheet that lists all of the books I own. Many have said I'm crazy, Eli, *cough cough.* But this list has saved me from buying duplicate books. It's hard to keep track!

So, tell me, what books are you looking forward to? I always love recommendations!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Challenge Check-In

Another week has gone by. How is everyone doing? I had a slow week. Twelve or thirteen pages is all. I attribute this to a problem that kept me occupied for several days. Given all the stories varied circumstances, I needed to come up with a way to make a certain thing happen. Try as I might, I just couldn't seem to get it to make sense. Experience has taught me, however, that the answer is just a little out of my grasp and if I talk about it, think about it and take a few walks where I can mutter to myself, eventually, I will come up with a way to make it happen.

This time I came up with another solution, the only possible solution. I recreated the problem because it finally occurred to me that I was trying my best to mix black and white and get red and I'd better figure out a way to deal with gray. I.e, I redefined the situation. Lesson to be learned? Stay fluid....

So, how is everyone else doing?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh When the Thoughts Come Flooding in

Oh when the thoughts come flooding in...

I was mulling ideas around last night and this morning, trying to come up with a suitable subject to blog on today. Notice I said suitable. Many, many ideas popped into my head, so we'll just go with that. Hopefully my drift will become clearer in a moment.

You see, when I'm writing -- which is all the time in a round about way -- I need a lot of down time. Hours, days, weeks even to process, digest and defragment. During this seemingly unproductive phase, ideas regularly come marching in. Which is a good thing. And a bad. Stay tuned for more details on that.

When I start to stress about this "non-writing" time, I try to remember Stephen King's wisdom on the subject which he shares in that favored book of mine he authored, "On Writing". Once Mr. King was staring out the window and his wife asked him what he was doing. His reply? "I'm writing."

If a successful, commercial writer like King daydreams without guilt, then why shouldn't we?

This week, at least so far -- there's still today and this weekend -- I have not revised or written one word of fiction. Why? I've been busy with one thing or another, you know, same old tired excuse. But I've been bombarded with thoughts, ideas, snippets of dialog and plot and backstory. And most of it isn't even on the work I'm supposedly working on. But that's good. I think. Yeah, I'm almost certain it's good, because it's moving me forward, at least mentally, to tackle the next project when this one is finished.

The only bad part is so many thoughts stomping through my brain tend to static the signal the beings from another planet are trying to send me. Ha! Kidding aside, I try to give the fresh new ideas room to stretch their long, alien legs and grow, yet still stay focused and moving along on the project at hand. This is not always an easy task, which brings me to the day's question portion:

How do you keep focused on your current project? Or do you skip around and work on several at one time? If so, do you experience guilt over it? How do you lasso that guilt and make it work for you?

Several times Alice has commented that we prepubbeds are lucky. We have the luxury of enjoying writing for the sheer joy of writing, without the ensnarement of deadlines. She's got a point there. I say let's listen to Alice and Stephen King and enjoy the journey down the road to publication. Without guilt. And with as little stress as possible.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Casting Call

We've probably blogged about this before -—I know we have —-but I've been thinking about this lately. How many of us "cast" the characters in our books? By that I mean some writers choose celebrities, or people they know, who they can visualize as they write their stories.

For KNIGHT'S CURSE, I first had an image of Katie Holmes as my heroine Chalice, until I found out how tall she is. Uh, no, not going to work. Chalice is a petite 5'2", and Katie is a statuesque 5'9". She always looked shorter to me than that in the movies. Anyway, it was her dark, child-like features that could turn sexy in a heartbeat that made her so ideal for my heroine. So I picked someone else just as perfect, though she's not an actress. She's the lead singer in the band Evanescence and her name is Amy Lee. In fact, she's even more perfect than Katie. That's who I see as I write Chalice's character.

My villain never resembled anyone I'd seen before. Still, I could picture him perfectly: older man, sophisticated, pale and silver-haired, tall and virile for his age, his visage bland and the man himself as cruel as they come. He was totally made up in my mind, but I could draw him if I had to. Like describe him to a police artist. Then one of my critique partners said that when she reads about him, she sees a demented David Niven. Aha! Perfect! Now I see a demented David Niven, too.

I have a secondary character that is villainous in her own right. She's a rather large gal whose name is Zeppelin, but everyone calls her Zee. I sort of picture her as the character Edna Turnblad in the movie Hairspray who's played by John Travolta, only with a big beehive hairdo. Ha!

I haven't seen anyone I recognize as my hero, Aydin. He has some unique features, which could be why. He's Turkish with Asian eyes that are the color of frozen jade. If you know of someone who looks like that, please let me know and direct me to his picture. 8^)

It's funny where we draw our inspiration. So the question is, who are in the cast of characters for your book? Celebrity or family relative? The neighbor down the street or your best friend's brother? That nasty clerk at the hardware store or the snooty teller at the bank? Or just totally made of from the clay of your own imagination?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chosen Paths

I think this is the day no one is scheduled to use... if I am wrong, please forgive me and post your blog, mine can sink lower on the list!

I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday whom I hadn't spoken to for over fifteen years. I heard word of her occasionally, but yesterday was the first time that we actually visited. She's a writer, too. At one time, she and I and our mutual friend had a critique group. She was writing a children's fictional book about abuse, an issue close to her heart. I was writing a children's book as well, a mystery (surprise). At one point, she said, "I wish I could write like you," which stunned me as she was by far the superior writer. Then she explained that she wished she could write for bigger markets, but I knew the truth was she just wasn't interested in creating fictional stories without a deep message.

So yesterday we caught up. During these fifteen years, we both faced a major health concern. She got her dire diagnosis when she had just gone to contract on another book, this one a compilation of child abuse survivors' stories, something different than what was available on the market. She made her deadline and is currently plotting her next project. Meanwhile, she's been very active in a non-profit organization for cancer survivors, again, one with a unique twist.

During this same fifteen years, I have sold eighteen books. Not one of them dealt with any of the issues I had experienced relating to health nor did they provide anything but entertainment to my readers. As we compared notes, she admitted feeling a twinge of envy over what I had accomplished (the sheer volume, relatively speaking, I suppose), and believe you me, as she spoke of the letters written by young women from all over the world who have found comfort and strength and peace because of her books, I felt envy, too.

In the end, I guess we are who we are. How about you? Are you doing with your books what you had hoped to do or what you desire still to do? If not, do you have any plans to shake things up?

FILL IN

I think this is the day no one is scheduled to use... if I am wrong, please forgive me and post your blog, mine can sink lower on the list!

I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday whom I hadn't spoken to for over fifteen years. I heard word of her occasionally, but yesterday was the first time that we actually spoke. She's a writer, too. At one time, she and I and our mutual friend had a critique group. She was writing a children's fictional book about abuse, an issue close to her heart. I was writing a children's book as well, a mystery (surprise). At one point, she said, "I wish I could write like you," which stunned me as she was by far the superior writer. Then she explained that she wished she had a commercial voice but it went further than that as what she was also wishing she was more intrigued by fictional stories without a deep message as they are more commercial.

So yesterday we caught up. During these fifteen years, we both faced a major health concern. She got her dire diagnosis when she had just gone to contract on another book, this one a compilation of child abuse survivors' stories, something different than what was available on the market. She made her deadline and is currently plotting her next project. Meanwhile, she's been very active in a non-profit organization for cancer survivors, again, one with a unique twist.

During this same fifteen years, I have sold eighteen books. Not one of them dealt with any of the issues I had experienced relating to health nor did they provide anything but entertainment to my readers. As we compared notes, she admitted feeling a tinge of envy over what I had accomplished, and believe you me, as she spoke of the letters written by young women from all over the world who have found comfort and strength and peace because of her books, I felt envy, too.

But in the end, I guess we are who we are. How about you? Are you doing with your books what you had hoped to do or what you desire still to do? If not, do you have any plans to shake things up?

Fill In Wednesday

I think this is the day no one writes on (Becky's old Wednesday. Don't we miss her blogs, by the way? Sigh...)

So, we might as well check-in and chat, I mean since we're all sitting here at the keyboard anyway, right? Right?

I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday whom I hadn't spoken to for over fifteen years. I heard word of her occassionally, but yesterday was the first time that we actually spoke. She's a writer, too. At one time, she and I and our mutual friend had a critique group. She was writing a children's book about abuse, an issue close to her heart. I was writing a children's book as well. At one point, she said, "I wish I could write do." which stunned me as she was by far the superior writer. Then she explained that she wished she had a commercial voice.

So yesterday we caught up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Giving Back

Today is the kick-off of a project my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, is initiating.

Judith Rochelle, is one of our multipublished authors at The Wild Rose Press as well as a personal friend. In late summer, 2007 I approached her with an idea of a project that would enable RJ and me to give something back for all the wonderful things that had happened to us since we opened in May 2006.

I wanted to find an organization that I felt everyone, everywhere would care about and really embrace. While many qualified, the one that kept coming back to my mind was St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

A few days later, Judith created a synopsis and a proposal for a book incorporating romance, suspense and St. Jude's. It took my breath away at what she'd come up with. Judith wrote the book, RJ and I edited it, and Kim Mendoza did the beautiful cover. None of us, including the publishing company, will receive any compensation; every penny will go to St. Jude's. Children's Hospital.

The result of this, is the amazing Crimson Rose book called "On the Run" by Judith Rochelle. The book will be offered in both print and electronic format. The amount raised will be announced on our web site twice a year. The first report to be posted at the end of June 2008.If you've purchased this book, thank you for your contribution to St. Jude's, if you haven't purchased it yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.

The download is $5.00 and will go into a special fund to be donated to St. Jude's twice a year.If you would like more information on this project, you may contact Rhonda Penders at rpenders@thewildrosepress.com. To learn more about the author, please visit www.judithrochelle.com.To see the amazing work St. Jude's does, please visit their web site at www.stjude.org.Thank you for your support of this important project.Rhonda Penders


I've had the name and phone number of a person to contact who is in charge of Project PJ. A program where you provide pajamas and picture books to toddlers in safe houses and under the state's care. I just need to determine how much of my sales I want to put toward this and make the call to commit.

Do any of you put writing money toward a cause or would you when you are published? I'm a firm believer in giving back. It's just taking that initial step to get started.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

CHALLENGE UPDATE

Hi everyone.

Instead of a daily challenge check-in, I wondered if a once a week check-in would do. Let's try it. I'll post something like this every Saturday. Each of us can respond with a word/page count or editing progress. If you are a visitor to this blog and want to take part, please feel feel to join in at any time. The challenge began as a 1,000 word a day challenge but has morphed to fit participant's individual needs. Just state your goal and reveal how you did.

If a weekly check-in doesn't work, we'll regroup and think of something else.

What do you think?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rituals

The other night at our meeting, our guest speaker, Patrick Glancy, talked about ways to be more productive. One of the things he mentioned was the steps we each take to get into our "creative" mind - that place where we can sit and create, push aside the doubt demons and worries and just write. He gave each person who was at the meeting a 9 minute CD to help us get into that creative space so we can block everything else out and get down to work. I haven't listened to mine yet, but I plan to. Soon. (Maybe today.) Those of you who did listen to yours, what do you think? Did it help you get to a creative place?

I've been thinking about this a lot this week - this idea of the rituals or steps we each take to shut down our analytical mind and get into our creative one. I would imagine for anyone who has little kids running around the house, this is a hard thing to do, which explains why I don't get a lot of writing done during the day and do most of it at night. I find it very hard to get to that creative place when I'm constantly distracted or interrupted or just plain thinking about the ten-thousand other things I have to do today (like call the Y and find out when DS#1's bball game is tomorrow, or drive to Jefferson to take care of chapter bank stuff, or feed the kids and take the youngest to kindergarten and run to the grocery store because we're out of milk and figure out how the heck the youngest is going to get his nap in and intercept fighting and screaming and jumping on my new bed...) When asked, one of our guests the other night said she does something until it doesn't work anymore, then she tries something else, and that's how she avoids writer's block. I suppose we each do that in different ways, but I'm curious what your ritual is right now? Does it change? Is it primarily the same? Do you tweak it when you're under pressure or feeling stressed or when the words just aren't flowing?

I hate to admit it out loud, but my ritual is like this:

8pm - Put the kids to bed
8:30 - Flop on the couch and lay there for 20 minutes while I try to think about nothing.
8:50 - Pick up the computer, open my wip and stare at the screen.
9:00 - Open spider solitaire and play until I win (I'm compulsive)
Whenever that happens - start working on the wip.

Yeah, not so good, eh? But it works for me. For some reason I need a bit of down time between when the kids to go to bed and when I start working to get that analytical mind turned off and the creative one in gear. And for some reason mindless games of solitaire seem to do that for me. Now. In a week, that might not be the case. I also use that hour to talk to the DH, half-listen to the TV, sometimes IM with friends and just veg. Has it made me productive? I don't know. I'm editing now, so it's hard to judge productivity at this stage except to say that I'm making progress. And I wrote 2K new words the other night (no idea if I'll keep them or toss them - we'll see when I get the first round of these new edits out of the way), so yeah, I consider that progress.

What about you? Are you able to move from one activity - like your day job or your kids or what have you - to writing without any problem or do you have a transitional phase you go through to get into that creative mind? And once you're there, can you go back and forth or once you come out of that creativity place (like to answer the phone) do you have trouble getting back to it?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

LOOK AT THIS GREAT 2008 LINE-UP OF EVENTS!

Dang it! Blog day and I'm late again. Sigh. I was late to our meeting last Tuesday also and missed the speaker's presentation, which people in attendance said was a great one! Now, I could digress here into several different topics, including changing habits we don't like about ourselves (for me, running late).

However, I won't. What I really want to talk about is what do we get from our RWA chapter. My apologies, Bethany, if I'm stepping on your Tuesday toes.

I'm really jazzed about all the events our chapter has planned. Among them are:

-- The beach retreat in February. I didn't make it to either of the retreats last year, so maybe that's why I've been looking forward to this one for months. I have two manuscripts that need to be edited. I figure I can get through the cleanest one while at the retreat and maybe get started on the second one.

-- A Saturday viewing in April of the Hauge/Vogler workshop that was presented at Nationals last year -- A freebie bonus for our chapter members. Christopher Vogler's book, The Writers Journey, was filled with "aha!" moments for me, so I'm really looking forward to this.

-- The fall query letter/synopsis contest with the awesome prize of registration for National Conference in 2009 (approximately $425). What a fantastic prize! However, I probably won't enter because I don't plan to go to National next year. Now if it was this year, I'd be writing my synopsis already. :) Guess this will be a time for me to give back to the chapter by volunteering to help judge.

-- A workshop with Mary Buckham this fall. For those of you who have not taken a class from her, she is fantastic! I took one of her online classes and loved it. Those who went to Portland to see her last year also gave her rave reviews. This is something to look forward when the wind and rain are beating down on us again.

-- A great line-up of meeting speakers and a cool new place to meet. I wasn't sure about our new meeting place. The library was so close to my house and my Jeep knew the way automatically. However, I walked into this place and immediately felt comfortable. Inside this inviting place they have arranged a variety of seating areas with couches and comfy chairs. Several small groups of people were meeting or individuals were accessing the Internet via their computers. Very casual. No feeling that you had to hurry up and leave. It was like walking into a friend's house and making yourself comfortable. And the Blue Pepper is even closer to my house!

So, what do I get from our chapter? Obviously, the positive energy and enthusiasm of others who are pursuing their writing. Knowledge and new ways to dig deeper into my writing. Time to write, the support of other writers, cheerleaders, people to bounce ideas off -- just to name a few benefits.

How about you? What benefits do you get from our chapter? How about those of you who live at a distance? The Blue Pepper has Internet access and a fairly big screen. Maybe someday we can patch in our long-distance members and you can be at the meeting with us! (Not to add anything more to your already full plate, Eli!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

PLAGIARISM

Maybe you noticed a communication from RWA last week regarding their stand on plagiarism, a subject in the news again thanks to allegations made by Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books against best selling historical writer Cassie Edwards, published by Signet, among others. Edwards writes mainly books about native Americans.

From what I've read, Edwards has admitted she used passages from non-fiction books but didn't know she was supposed to give credit to them. On e-news. Nora Roberts, who is also published by Penguin and was also a herself a victim of plagiarism several years ago when Janet Dailey stole from her, said, "By my definition, copying another's work and passing it as your own equals plagiarism. As a writer, a reader and a victim of plagiarism, I feel very strongly on this issue. I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see it as fair use, or fair anything when one writer takes another's work."

I went to the Smart Bitches web site and read what they had to say: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ Then I went to the Publisher's Weekly website: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6518522.html and read what they had to say, and then I read Signet, who at first defended what Edwards did as interpreting information and making it her own, and later said it would examine the allegations more thoroughly.

Here is what I learned, and please keep in mind I haven't had the time to do a really close investigation. At the Smart Bitches website, they gave passages between reference books and Edward's books and they were stunningly close. I urge you to read a bit of it yourself, it's in a down-loadable column on the right side of the page. I'll quote one example at the end of this blog. Sorry I don't know how to give a decent link. Signet also gave an example, but theirs was much less profound (surprise, surprise). And Publisher Weekly threw in their two cents.

I am not going to offer much comment about this case specifically as I am not well informed enough to do so, but the whole thing has definitely got me to thinking about the subject of plagiarism. Every author of fiction at one time or another is going to do research and how you present that research in your own book can be difficult.

For instance, you want to describe a southern plantation and yet you've never been to the south and haven't seen Gone With the Wind -- ever. So you go to the library and you choose a half dozen books on southern plantations and you look at pictures and read descriptions and some author says something about a "winding", "sweeping", "spiraling" staircase or a "light swept", "ghostly", "palatial" landing…well take it a little further and have them describe in a sentence or two the entire staircase in damn near lyrical prose. The book is called, "Southern Mansions" and was published in 1936, for instance, and you say to yourself, that's a dandy description and there you go, you are knee deep in choices. How much do you change? How much must you change? How do you change it? If you use it, well, can you use it? Can you just thank the auhtor of that book in the front of your book? Do you contact a publisher that may no longer be around?

I am now going to give you an example copied from the download at Smart Bitches. It's not the most telling, actually, but it's interesting. They did all the work, this is available on their web site, and I hope it's okay with them if I use it:

Edwards wrote:
He rode from the village, a sadness grabbing at his heart. After a while he saw several buffalo wandering through a field of sunflowers, lolling their heads as they walked. Loving the sunflowers so much, some of the animals had uprooted the plants and had wound them about their necks, letting sprays dangle from their horns. p. 10-11

The reference book:
And strange it is, but the buffalo loved the simple and odorless sunflower just as did the Lakota. These great beasts wandered through the sunflower fields, wallowing their heads among them. Sometimes they uprooted the plants and wound them about their necks, letting sprays dangle from their left horns. Id., p.49 http://books.google.com/books?id=-Ajg7FRiISIC&printsec=frontcover#PPA49,M1

So, fellow bloggers, what do you think of this? How do you handle these issues?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

HELP!!!

Sorry, no Bethany today. Talked to her this morning and she's mired down in schoolwork and a teething baby. So I'm filling in today, and it's actually timely because I can't wait until Friday - my normal blog day - to seek the advice I need. (So thanks to Bethany for giving me her day today.)

Okay. I need help with the book I'm revising. Here's the main problem: This is a romantic suspense reunion story. The hero and heroine had an intense relationship four years before. At the end of it, she though he was involved in some criminal activities and because of something she witnessed, her life and those of her family members was in danger. She decided to go into hiding and faked her own death.

Fast forward four years. She needs something from the hero - something she sent him right before she went into hiding that he's about to sell. She decides to steal it back, only things don't go as she planned. A series of events happen, she's seen by the bad guys and she and the hero are once again thrust back together but are now on the run. Lots of emotional angst here - he thought she was dead; she thinks he was only with her years ago for her connections and that ultimately his involvement in this criminal activity is what put her life in danger. Both of them have lots of secrets they hid from the other originally, but for different reasons.

The problem I'm having is that when I got my revisions back from my agent she wanted two main things: One, she wanted my hero to be much more angry than he is. Which is fine. I can make him angry, in fact, that's how I originally had him written and then backed him off. Sort of made me feel good to hear her say that because it made me see my original instinct was right. The second main edit she wanted though is much harder: She wants more showing, less telling, and she wants to see evidence of their history together. That in order for the reader to understand the conflict between them - and the suspense conflict as well because it all ties together - I have to somehow "show" more of their past relationship.

This has left me scratching my head. A lot. Because this is a chase book, the hero and heroine are pretty much on scene, either alone or together a lot. There aren't a whole lot of secondary characters for either of them to confide in or have "ah-ha" moments with. The way it's written now, I have two brief flashbacks from their relationship - one when they met, and one when things turned to crap. I tried to incorporate some of their backstory into internals, to let some come out in conversation, but apparently there was too much of that. I've never been big on flashbacks, but I'm not entirely sure how else to do this. If anyone has any suggestions in this situation, I'd love to hear them.

I've read a lot of reunion stories - and I love them - but writing them is a whole other ball of wax for me. One I read started with a prologue that was the pivotal betrayal/breakup scene between the hero and heroine, then chapter one went back into the past and for the first four chapters showed their past relationship. Then at the end of that the book jumped ahead to the present and the ultimate suspense that came out of that betrayal/breakup. Another one I read that I really liked had a couple of tense "present day" suspense chapters to get you introduced to the characters, then the next chapter went back in time to show the growing relationship, then the following chapter jumped ahead to the present. This was an interesting way to do it, and though it sounds strange, I really liked it. I found myself reading the "present" chapters to see what was happening now, then intensely reading the "past" chapters to see what had happened in their relationship to make things turn so bad. By about the halfway point, the "past" relationship had played out and the author moved all into the present, but there were still a few questions from the past left unanswered that kept the reader looking, and those answers were eventually revealed when the hero and heroine finally had one of those "deep discussions."

So I know there are lots of ways to do this, I'm just stumped as to how to proceed. If any of you have any pearls of wisdom on this, I'm all ears. Alice keeps reminding me of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". How the hero and heroine had a past history that caused their romantic conflict, but that it didn't need to be explained for the audience to understand their problems. That's totally true, but when I looked back on that, I realized their past conflict didn't tie into the movie's current suspense plot, and mine does. Which takes me right back to where I was before - how do I "show" their history because it's so important to the present plot?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Online workshops

How is it Monday already?? How is it January 14th already?? Oy!

I'd like to pick your brains about online workshops. I've taken a few of them, I don't remember them all though. I do recall taking ones on self-editing, plotting, and I think dialogue or characterization. Wow, must have left an impression.

I often start out well. I respond to the e-mails and do the mini-assignments. But after a couple of days or a week, I fizzle out. Most of the time I've just saved all of the documents from the workshop for future reference, but not taken advantage of the discussion aspect of the course.

When I choose a workshop it's usually based on the topic. If it's a topic I like, then I'll look at who is teaching it. Oh! And the price, that's a biggie. I don't think I'd spend more than $30 for an online workshop, unless it's taught by someone I really want to interact with, or comes with lots of useful handouts, like if Michael Hauge taught an online one. Those handouts would be worth the $30. Related to price, the length of workshop makes a difference. Is it $30 for two weeks or a month?

I'm also a bit irrational about them. I like that the workshop presenters give out assignments like, 'write a two-sentence hook for your story' and they proceed to give feedback to each one, on the loop. It's great to see what other people write and it helps me to write them.

However, that's a TON of e-mail. If you have 30 people in a workshop, each one posts their hook. Then the presenter responds to each. That's at least 60 e-mails in a couple of days. Then there are always people who respond further and ask more questions - it is an interactive workshop, right? The e-mail quantity adds up.

So I'll eventually set the workshop to digest, particularly if it's a month-long workshop. The problem is - either I forget to read the digest, or I miss the important nuggets of info from the presenter.

I took one workshop where the presenter set all of her general posts (assignments, announcements, tips, lectures, etc) as 'special notice' in the Yahoo Group. Then workshop takers can go into their Yahoo Group interface and change it from individual e-mails or digest to special notice only. That way they only get e-mails from the presenter, and can manually go into Yahoo to read other posts if they like.

That setup worked great for me. I really liked that.

How about you all? Let's take a quick survey.
1) Do you, or have you, taken online workshops?
2) What topics have you taken, or would you like to take if it were offered?
3) What price range do you look for?
4) Do you prefer 2- or 4-week workshops?
5) Do you use Yahoo Groups or another interface for them?
6) Any other comments on online workshops would be appreciated. Things that bug you, things that work well.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

CHALLENGE UPDATE




My husband took this photo a couple of years ago. The Pelicans remind me of us. You know, all on the same journey, traveling together for strength.

Anyway, how is everyone doing? We all know Chris has been writing up a storm, Paty is overachieving, Karen is lost somewhere in a spooky rewriting cave. How about the rest of us?

Our challenges are specialized this time, but accountability can keep even the most devout (or harried) writer on track at times, so lets all check in, restate our goals and reveal if we're happy with our progress and brainstorm on how to make it better if we're not. I know some haven't started yet as they had health issues to overcome or previous obligations to fulfill, but check in anyway! Keep in touch...

CHALLENGE UPDATE

My husband took this photo a couple of years ago. The Pelicans remind me of us. You know, all on the same journey, traveling together

CHALLENGE


My dh took this photo a year or two ago off the Northern California coast. We're like the pelicans, right? Winging our way to success, drawing strength from others making the same journey?

Anyway, I thought we could use the blog to check in on where we are with our specialized challenges! This will be an opportunity for us each to know who's doing what and who wants to accomplish what. Accountability sometimes keeps us on track, right?

We all heard from Chris Young that she's been writing up a storm. I'd be interested in hearing what her deadline is. Paty emailed from Alaska where she was writing 50 gazillion pages a minute in the middle of the night while listening to a PA system. Can you say "Overachiever?" And Karen is in a cave somewhere. How's it going in there, Karen?

Some people haven't started their challenges yet as they had other obligations or health issues to work out first. And some, at least one and that would be me, are plugging away slowly but surely.

So who are you, where are you at, what is your deadline (self imposed or otherwise, it doesn't matter.)

I'll account for myself on the blog!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Holiday Reads

I'm not usually one to do holiday books. Not that I have anything against them, I don't. It's just such a busy season with reading time spread thin. This year was different, for some reason. Maybe because I didn't write over Christmas and New Years. Whatever the reason, I rather enjoyed the three, no wait, make that four, holiday stories that I read.

I'll give you a brief run down:

A Simple Gift by Karyn Witmer.
This was a large-print edition hard back. The gigantic font made reading it quick work. I would label it as women's fiction. The romantic twist was between a long-time married couple. After their daughter leaves without warning and shows up back in thier home town more than a year later with a baby, but won't speak to them, it is a struggle for the couple to keep their marriage together and regain a sense of family. The horticulturist in me liked the "simple gift" theme of a Christmas cactus, whose cuttings had been passed down by the women of this family for generation after generation as a sort of passage of acceptance.

The Christmas Thief by Marry and Carol Higgins Clark.
A cozy, entertaining mystery. Also a zip to read. An elderly lottery-winner-turned-amateur-sleuth and an elderly P.I. join forces to help solve a case involving an 80-foot blue spruce and a hidden fortune in jewels. I would rate this book PG. I plan to pass it on to my grandma. I think she'd enjoy it too.

Holidays are Murder by Charlotte Douglas:
This is a Next trade paperback and a Maggie Skerritt mystery. I liked this 40-something detective, Maggie Skerritt. She seems real. She has problems at work, and issues with family, holidays and men. Of course she solves the Florida-based murder case, and in the end she gets her love life in order too. What more could a detective ask for? Or a reader for that matter. This book now lives on my keeper shelf.

Blackberry Winter:
Bummer here is, this was the first holiday story I read this season and I all ready passed it on to someone else, so I can't tell you right off hand who wrote it. It was also a Next trade paper back. It was about a daughter and her dying mother's relationship, a trip to the past, via a small mountain town, and secrets long buried finally revealed.

I enjoyed each of these books, and the fairly novel concept -- for me anyway -- of reading Christmas stories in December and January. Each was made a more special experience because my mom bought the books for me three years ago when I was having pregnancy difficulties. I couldn't get them read before January of that year -- Mom also gave me many books that weren't holiday themed -- so I shelved them for when the time was right. My mom passed away a year and a half ago. I missed her like crazy this Christmas, so the time was definitely right for me to peruse these stories.

How about you? Do you read holiday-themed books? If so, does it matter what time of year you read them? Did you read any this season? Care to share a brief review? Reading these stories made me think about someday writing a Christmas manuscript of my own. Have you ever written a holiday book or short story? Do you have any plans to write one in the future?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Revision Cave


Bwahahaaha! Yep, that's me, spelunking through the cave, laptop strapped to my back as I dodge the stalactites and stalagmites of my first draft. It's dark in here, but I do see light at the end of the tunnel.

I think everyone approaches revision of a first draft in a different way. I know there are books on how to do it, and online workshops abound, plus plenty of articles on websites and in writers magazines. I've never taken a class, but I do own a book on revision that I haven't read yet, and I've revised off a few revision letters received from agents and editors on past projects. I'm currently in the middle of the "the first read through" phase and it's an eye-opening, but also exciting, experience.

I enjoy making revisions because it's like putting those finishing touches on a painting, adding that extra detail and dimension that will bring it to life. Or defining the features of a sculpture or carving or ceramic. It's that phase of a creative project that brings you closer to your work and makes you become one with it. It's the point when the book feels real.

As I'm writing a book, I don't blast through it in the white heat of creative frenzy. I'm a methodical pantser with a fairly good idea about my beginning, middle and end when I start. But as I write, there are some spots I know I'll have to fix later, and I make a mental note or a place holder of some kind that will tip me off when I reach that spot during revisions. Good grief, but I had a lot of those in this book. And some of them were kind of hidden. Note to self: In future books, remember to use different colored type in placeholders.

Though I revise as I go, I've been writing long enough to know that when I reach the end, it's not really the end for me. More work needs to be done. One of my favorite types of placeholders is narrative summary, which I use for two reasons: 1. To get me from point A to point B quickly so that I don't lose my creative rhythm, and I know I can expand on it later; 2. If the book ends up really long (rare for me), I can leave it as is with just minor tweaking.

Something else that happens as I write, since I have very little planned out beforehand, is that I experiment with new characters and plot points knowing I may or may not keep them. So when I go back through to revise, the character introduced in chapter eight started out duplicitous but ended up being a saint. Or in chapter five I revealed a secret that I decided to reveal in chapter thirteen instead. What I wanted a character to know in chapter two I'd forgotten about by chapter ten and have to fix. This kind of stuff is everywhere! But it's great fun because as I read through and flesh out and tweak and expand, my story is becoming a cohesive treasure for me. I can only hope the agents I query share the same view. 8^)

I've heard many of you lament over the revision process, and some of you dive into it with the same relish I do. If you don't share my enthusiasm for this phase of writing a novel, why not? And if you do, please share your reasons and offer tips if you have some. Hey, I'm in the middle of my revisions. Tips are most appreciated.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fix It and Forget It

I've got a fun exercise for you today, but first a little bit of To-Do Tuesday news. Former chapter member Jennifer Grosse has sold her first book, Wedding War to The Wild Rose Press. She'll be publishing as Jenny Gilliam. I'm sure you all join me in wishing her the best of luck! Her fast rise from newbie to published author should inspire us all (and/or make us insanely jealous!)!

Anyone else have good news to share? How are all you challengers coming along? Is Alice cracking her whip hard enough?

Now, onto to today's exercise. I just had to set aside a mystery with a great premise, fun characters, and good voice. Why then is it currently keeping the dust bunnies company? Dialogue. Now, I know I've done at least two previous posts on dialogue, but bear with me. Danita has hooks, I've got dialogue. Nothing makes me loose interest faster than poor dialogue, and with limited reading time these days, I'm finding it way easier to chuck books against the wall and move onto the next contender.

This particular book suffered from the disease known as paragraphitis. This harrowing affliction shows up most frequently in contest submissions, but it's been known to plague more than a few published authors as well. Paragraphitis occurs when your characters are prone to speaking in monologues. Yes, I know it worked for Shakespeare. Trust me, you're no Shakespeare, and your readers certainly aren't Elizabethan peers of the realm. In order to capture the attention of modern readers, your dialogue needs to be short and snappy with plenty of give and take. Plus, we really need to understand what's going on behind the dialogue--emotions, facial expressions, body language, and inner thoughts.It needs to read like people really talk--pauses, interchanges, incomplete thoughts, and interruptions.

In fact, it needs to be BETTER than how we talk. No one really wants to read one of my husband's monologues on Linux or suffer through my aunt's cat stories. Let your characters come up for air. If you have to picture the other characters rolling their eyes or frantically waving their hand to get a word in edgewise, you too may be suffering from paragraphitis. Luckily, this is a pretty easy disorder to treat.

I thought about using the book I just tossed as today's example, but I know how painful it would be to have my novel serve as a teaching point, so I'm using an example of my own devising. What I want you to do is take this monologue and turn it into a true, snappy dialogue. You get to decide who's talking and what the context of the situation is. I always love seeing how each of us has a different take on the same prompt.

"Of course you're upset. I would be too. I mean anyone would. But we can't wallow in it. We just have to move on. I know just ticket. We need to get out of the house. First, we should head to Dutch Brothers, then we should hit the mall. A new dress is exactly what you need and Nordstrom's is having a sale. They have the best dressing rooms, and the saleswomen will make you feel like a queen. We'll gorge at the food court--I know how you love a gooey, buttery pretzel! Soon you'll forget he even existed."

"Ok."

"Great. Let's get our purses and head out. I'll bring the car around. But, would you rather freshen up first?

Now, fix it. And share your thoughts on paragraphitis.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Published = Writing talent + Perseverance + Attitude

In every job a person enters there are basic things that make a difference in their success.

One is being able to do the job; whether it is the ability to be a quick study or the fact you are willing to always be open to learning more. Another is working toward being the best you can be in that occupation if it’s flipping burgers or running a large company most people wish to improve their lot.

Two is being conscious of those around you. Making them feel comfortable in your presence and being thoughtful to their interests and listening.

In the publishing industry it isn’t very different. To get published in this day and age of easy access to writers at conferences, book signings, MySpace, blogs, and websites a writer needs to have three things going for them.

1) The ability to write stories that capture the readers attention and in the case of romance, their hearts.
2) The perseverance to keep at it and perfect their writing no matter how many rejection letters they receive.
3) A personality that is willing to work with editors and agents and draw readers in.


I remember attending RWA Nationals a few years ago and throughout the conference I found myself near a Golden Heart Finalist. But it wasn’t her first time as a finalist and she let everyone know that and the fact she had yet to sell. And lo and behold- she won again. In her acceptance speech she showed off all her Golden Hearts and went on to complain and whine about how none of these had done her any good. You could feel the crowd getting nervous and feeling embarrassed for her. You can bet if that is the way she’s reacted to each Golden Heart since the first one, the editors have all put her name on a list of writers they don’t want to work with.

I know of one publishing house that has a place where the editors make notes about writers. Any editor in that house can look at it and see the comments made. If a writer was a diva and hard to work with it is noted. I’m sure all the larger publishing houses have the same thing.

As in any job there are a whole lot of factors that can move you up in your job, but the main things you need to move up in the publishing world are writing talent, perseverance, and attitude.

Do you think this is true? Or are there other things that you think make the difference in getting published other than being at the right place at the right time, which has worked for many writers.

Friday, January 04, 2008

No Blog

Apologies for the no - or lame - blog. I'm sick with the flu, strep and some weird ear infection thing that has me hearing echoes. My brain isn't working well enough to come up with a pithy blog. If anyone has something they want to post today, by all means, jump in and go for it.

I'm going to leave you with a line from a book my CP sent me for Christmas: Craft & Technique by Paul Raymond Martin. I don't read a lot of craft books, but this one is pocket sized, and instead of pages and pages telling you what you should or shouldn't do, it has one-liners that make you think. The one that stuck out to me today deals with character:

"Every memorable character has a wart, of sorts."

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves. ;)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

THE BEST LAID PLANS ...

Well, it had been my plan to announce that my Web site has been revised -- which it has been. However, instead of that great new Web site showing up, I'm getting an error message. Sheesh! And there's a disclaimer on my hosting server that says it may take 24 hours for updated material to show up. Soooo... I have to wait until tomorrow to see if the server is being temperamental or if I messed up when I uploaded the files. Hopefully, my revised Web site will be up and running sometime Thursday. In the meantime, if you want to look at the error message, my url is: www.genenevalleau.com :)

Since my big announcement fell a bit flat, I'm riding on the coattails of Alice's blog. I designed my own cover and have drafts of my next two covers done -- as you will be able to see once my revised Web site is up and running. Alice asked how it felt to design your own covers. The control freak part of my personality likes it. One drawback is there's no one else to blame if it turns out ugly or doesn't sell a bazillion books. Kinda like the Web site that doesn't show up. I can't just call the designer and have her fix it. The designer is me! Another drawback is being too close to a project to see it objectively. Critique partners can be very helpful in pointing out places where our story doesn't work for them. Same with covers -- having someone take a "fresh eyes" look at a cover is very helpful for me.

Once my revised Web site shows up, I'd love to have your comments (as well as letting me know if there's something that's not working). If you're so inclined, enter my contest. I'll be doing several contests to celebrate the release of my first book, SONGS OF THE HEART, which will be released April 4, a month earlier than originally scheduled.

The revised Web site and contest are part of the promotion for this book. I'll also be attending more conferences than usual this year, with promotional materials in hand, which I will design. (One of the benefits of also being a Web and graphic designer.) Will this be effective in selling more copies of my book? I'll see when the royalty statements come in!

Once again, to expand on Alice's blog about covers influencing whether or not a reader buys your book -- what promotional efforts influence whether you buy a book? Any at all? Most of the books I buy are written by authors I know and I've liked their previous work. How about a new author or one you haven't read?

Karen said she chooses by referrals or reviews. Paty looks at the cover and back blurb. Yet I think we've all ended up with books that we'd like to throw against the wall. Did the story not live up to the packaging or the promotion? Does it truly boil down to whether or not you like the story?

On the other hand, did you ever wonder if there was a delightful story hidden behind a less-than-attractive cover? Do you take the time to read the first page or skim through the book? Or do you decide in ten seconds or less whether or not to buy a book?

I took one more peek and still no updated Web site showing up. So I guess I'll post this blog, call it a night, and check on the Web site tomorrow. Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions on promotional efforts. They will be helpful to me over the next few months -- and I'll bring freebies to offer up at our meetings!

By the way, Alice, I love the cover of your new book. I'll buy the book because you wrote it, not because of the cover. Once I start reading a book, I rarely go back and look at the cover unless someone points out something odd about the cover, as you did that the cover models have the wrong color hair. At least one of them doesn't have three arms as a now infamous cover did!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A PICTURE'S WORTH...

This is my new cover. I'm very happy with it. I like the action, I like the scenery, I like the horses. I like the way the sun shines from the corner as the name of the resort in the book is Puerta Del Sol, or door of the sun. I like the looks of the hero and heroine and the way they seem to be galloping right off the cover.

However, in the book, the hero and heroine are both light haired. She's very blond, he's described, I believe as "fair" or maybe "sandy." These people look dark haired to me. At first I was a little stunned and then I decided to be practical and reasonable and let's face it, there's nothing I can do about it anyway.

Then I decided to try to picture these people on this cover with light hair. Not good. They would disappear.

So, this is my cover and I am back to my first response which was, I love it. And I have to hope that it is the first response of the reader, as well, the response that has her lifting the book for a glance at the back cover where my editor hopefully wows them with a pitch they can't wait to explore...

This weekend in the Parade section of my newspaper there was a question in the people section asking the editors why the female leads of shows like CSI show so much cleavage. One actress was quoted as saying something along the lines of, "You don't honestly think we get to dress ourselves, do you? That's wardrobe's department." And that's what I thought as I pictured my readers reacting to the first description of my heroine, for instance. I can see her flipping the book and looking again at the cover and shaking her head. I hope she doesn't hold it against me.

How much does a cover influence you as a reader and if you have published, how have you felt about your covers? I know some of you are able to design your own covers. What's that like? If you are pre-published, how much say do you hope to have in the cover that graces your first novel? I have to say that I have been very pleased with almost all of my covers and this one especially -- wrong hair color or not. If my book doesn't sell, I don't think I can blame the artist.

A look back . . . .

In the next few days, a slew of writing-resolution posts will litter the blogosphere. Challenges, goals, and motivational pushes to make this THE year for you will abound, and I'm sure some of my fellow bloggers have some of these in store for you.

So, I'd like to do something a little different. I'd like to look at some of our chapter highlights from the last year, and I'd like you to contribute your high-points as well.

  • Eli becomes chapter president! Filling the shoes of a dynamo like Paty Jager isn't an easy task, and this is a critical point for our chapter. Some members are moving on, old members are finding their way back, and new members are joining us. Transitions are hard on any group, and a change in leadership is often where a chapter either withers or perseveres to survive. Under Eli, our chapter will thrive. I can't think of a better person to take the helm and lead us in a new direction.
  • Finalists pile up! Eli finaled in the Golden Heart, Terry McLaughlin finaled in the Rita, Barb Cool Lee finaled in a whole slew of contests, Paty Jager and Chris Young finaled in the Eppies. . . Each time I saw one of our chapter members on a finalist list, I swelled with pride. We're a small chapter with a BIG presence, and our chapter members are so talented.
  • Genene presents her "Once Upon . . ." plotting talk. All of our speakers this year were terrific, but Genene's back-to-basics way of simplifying plot into a fairytale pushed me to find the core of my WIP, and the brainstorming session helped me see some critical weak points.
  • Critique meeting breakthroughs. Similarly, our critique meetings are always fun, and our 2007 critique meetings were exceptionally spirited. I enjoyed the forays into Paty's, Eli's, Jen's, and Alice's works. I love watching other's creative processes at work.
  • Blog moves forward! Our blog really took off this year, and there have been too many great posts to list, but feel free to revisit your favorites in the comments. Eli's challenge motivated us, Danita got us thinking about hooks in new ways, Alice motivates us, Paty and Piper educate us, and Lisa makes us laugh. Our audience grew, and we expanded our focus. I know To-Do Tuesdays has been on hiatus lately, but doing my Tuesday blog helped me feel productive and involved.
Now, we had a phenomenal year in 2007. What were your favorite moments? Who made a difference to the chapter? Did you have other RWA highlights this year (conference, awards, workshops, etc)? SHARE!! And Happy New Year!