Monday, December 31, 2012
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Welcome to the re-designed blog for the Mid-Willamette Valley Romance* Writers!
We're embarking on a new adventure — striking out on our own, without the backing of any "official" writing organization.
The writers of Mid-Willamette Valley Romance* Writers came together because of a mutual love of writing Romance.
Over the years, our interests have widened — hence our updated name. The asterisk (*) signifies that we don't just write Romance; we write in a wide variety of genres.
One thing hasn't changed, however. We still share a love of the Romance genre.
You never know what you'll find with the fun and witty Mid-Willamette Valley Romance* Writers. So sit back, settle in, and join in the lively discussion; we're a pretty friendly bunch!
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
I can't believe it's Christmas already! And that means the new year is just a week away. How does that happen?
This has been a year of ups and downs for me. The biggest "up" that came my way, of course, was finaling in RWA®'s Golden Heart in the Novel With Strong Romantic Elements (NSRE) category. I can't tell you how big a boost that was to my confidence. I didn't win, but that didn't matter. Being a finalist is winning.
The biggest "down" of the year was realizing that the manuscript I finaled with just wasn't ready. I've been working on it since the National Conference, fixing the things that are wrong with it and strengthening the writing overall. I haven't sent it yet to the Agents and Editors who requested it at the Conference (I'm still working on it), but I hope to have it ready by the end of January. Whew!
Another "down" for me was hearing that RWA has eliminated my category (NSRE) from this year's Golden Heart. I've always felt like I was on the fringes of romance writing — I don't write Romance, but I always have a strong romantic subplot — but this felt like I was being pushed away with a big ol' NOT WELCOME HERE sign in my face. RWA is a great organization and they have to do what they think is best, especially from a legal standpoint, but I feel like they're picking nits, so to speak.
Amongst all of this, our RWA Chapter had The Discussion and decided the time had come to dissolve as an official Chapter of RWA. It wasn't easy to contemplate, but the economy and the changes announced by RWA National (or perhaps I should say the "clarifications" to existing rules) pretty much guaranteed the outcome. So, as of January 1st, we will not be affiliated with Romance Writers of America.
Enough with the gloom! Another huge "up" for me was finding a compatible critique partner in Meggan McQuaid. I've always been leery of critiquing, being both unsure about my own critique abilities and about finding someone I trust with my writing. Meeting Meggan and working with her on critiquing in a group, then gradually starting to read more of each other's writing, has been amazing. Not only do we write (and read) in similar genres (essentially romantic fantasy of various subgenres), but our craft is at a similar level. Having her as a critique partner in the last couple of months has been the catalyst for taking my writing to the next level — and I believe she'd say the same.
It would be easy to be a bit bitter about the dissolution of the Chapter (mentioned above), but actually, I'm viewing it as a positive thing. The members are staying together as an informal writing group NOT officially associated with RWA. There's a sense of freedom now that we won't be governed by RWA's bylaws. We're contacting old members — those who had let their membership lapse — to see if they'd like to rejoin us. And we're revamping this blog and the website to reflect the changes we're making. Look for the big reveal at the first of the year.
I hadn't intended to do a retrospective on my year when I started this post, but I guess it's been on my mind. :-)
How about you — how was your year? Are you looking forward to anything special next year?
Monday, December 24, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
The setting sun over Depot Bay, Oregon. And the sun is setting on the year 2012 and the MidWillamette Valley Romance Chapter. If the Mayan calendar is correct... Hmm...
I'm looking forward to new beginnings, a new grandchild and a new set of goals for 2013.
I'll have to talk about the goals in January. Trying to figure out what is realistic for the year.
What will 2013 bring for you?
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Status: Working on book #8
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Monday, December 03, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
This will be the last of my "Adventures in Self-Publishing" blogs at Mid-Willamette Valley RWA, so you could say I am winding down.
But I'm actually just getting started. This year has been wonderful for me. I dipped my toes in the self-publishing water, and found the ocean so fine I dove right in!
I'm making as much money as I would as a mid-list author with mainstream publishers. No, I haven't hit the big-time yet. But I'm paying some bills, while writing *my* stories my own way.
I will release six books in 2012. I plan to top that in 2013. My biggest concern now is that I can't write fast enough to keep up with my plans:
I have a set of four books for next year called "A Year in Pajaro Bay." Each story is complete in itself, but there's also a continuing storyline that will wind up with the Christmas story late in 2013. I have another eighteen Pajaro Bay books outlined after that, so I hope to continue the series for a very long time.
I also have a new series which I'm calling "PB DARK." These are books set in the same world of Pajaro Bay, but they are darker stories (hence the name), with a heavier emphasis on the suspense, and plot twists that don't fit into the cheery world of the main Pajaro Bay brand. I have three of them so far, and am really looking forward to that mini-series, too.
Then there's the cozy mystery series I've got in mind. I don't want to give that one away, but it's a trilogy plus a Christmas story that I can hardly wait to write.
And that doesn't even begin to cover the fantasy side of things. I have "Deeds of the Ariane" sequels, and another series that is more directly based on my Medieval Studies degree, with a present-day immortal who was a figure in medieval history.
So my biggest problem is writing quickly enough to keep up with my imagination! And that's the ultimate plus of self-publishing. I am no longer confined by "the market." I put my work out there, and see what readers like and don't like, and go from there. The fantasy is on the back burner because it's not selling as quickly as the Pajaro Bay books, but I still have the freedom to write the less-lucrative storylines as I find time. I'm not worried about being "dropped" by a publisher. It's up to me.
And this year has given me the best gift of all: I have regained my joy of writing. I had gotten so sick of being told "you write well, but you're doing it wrong." Turns out I was writing something that an audience wanted (as I believed all along, but couldn't convince New York). It wasn't that they were wrong--I didn't fit into their marketing plans, and by their standards wouldn't be a success. But as a self-publisher, my books can go directly to an audience that is hungering for them. With a much larger slice of the pie coming my way, it is just as lucrative for me to work for this audience as it would be to reach the NY publishers' definition of a good audience. I am now blessed to be connecting directly with readers who want what I'm selling. No middlemen, no rules. Just the readers and me on a journey.
And that's the ultimate happy ending.
I'll be blogging in different places and with a very different format next year. I'm now at a point where I need to connect more directly with my readers with my blogging, so I will be centering my blog activity at my site and Goodreads.com (I'll put in one final plug for Goodreads: I highly recommend it for all authors; it's a great way to connect directly with avid readers). My 2013 blog will profile the "People of Pajaro Bay." I have over 120 brief character biographies now, so I'm thinking I'll be posting the bios twice a week. I will be posting at my site, Goodreads.com, and Pinterest, with links to Facebook, Twitter and who-knows-where. Whew.
I wish all my former chapter mates in Mid-Willamette Valley RWA the best. It's been wonderful knowing you all, and I hope to continue that in the new year (maybe I'll even get around to doing weekly goal-setting).
Happy holidays and a wonderful new year to you all!
And happy writing, everyone. :-)
Barbara Cool Lee
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. I've been busy writing (hurray!) and haven't had much time to think of a subject for today's post. So I thought I'd share a few pictures we took at the San Diego Zoo in October, when the skies were blue and the temperature was in the mid-70s (something I dream of at the moment).
We were walking around the huge elephant enclosure and saw this magnificent fellow, hanging out at the far end.
While my husband was taking that picture, I noticed movement on the bank below the fence. This little guy poked his head up and looked around.
We decided he was the advance scout for the Escape Committee. Hey, I say dream big or don't bother. :-)
Monday, November 26, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Status: Deep in book #8
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Monday, November 19, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Wow. I just realized I've missed my last several scheduled posts. Bad blogger, no biscuit!
I can't believe it's November already. I had so many plans after the RWA Conference in July. Sadly, few of them have happened. Let's see...I was going to: (1) finish the final Big Edit on THE LAZARUS GAMBIT and send it out to the agents/editors who requested it in Anaheim; (2) Gather my research for my next books, THE SUNDERED EARTH and TIAMAT; (3) Put together the minimal outlines for those books; and (4) Decide which one to work on first and Start Writing.
And where am I? Still working on the Big Edit. Some of this has to do with having a reaction to the Golden Heart thing and needing a break in general. A lot of it, however, has to do with wanting the book to be good...and there's this whole big mess in the middle that I'm fighting with. I knew it was there, even if I did want to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes and just go "la-la-la" and ignore it.
I can't ignore it.
I can fix it. It's just taking longer and it's harder than I thought.
That's what I've been up to these last few weeks and what I'm still working on. How are things with you?
Monday, November 12, 2012
Friday, November 09, 2012
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Status: Finishing book #7
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Since my own words seem to be elusive today, I'd like to share a short piece written by Christian D. Larson in 1912, that really resonated with me. I usually consider myself an optimist, but realized optimism could be taken to a deeper level, and many of these words could apply to our writing lives.
In searching the Internet, I found this had been used in the movie, The Secret, and had been adapted by Optimists International as their creed.
I hope you enjoy this.
The Optimist Creed
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.
To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
--Written by Christian D. Larson in 1912
Monday, November 05, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Status: Almost finished!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Monday, October 22, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Status: writing book #7
Monday, October 08, 2012
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Monday, October 01, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Status: almost finished (should complete today)
I spent a couple of days yurt camping at Beverly Beach so I'm a little, no quite a bit behind on most everything. We enjoyed wonderful weather but the beach was terribly windy. Took several nice long walks, watched my granddaughter play and learn to ride her hot wheels. I must have had a great time. Even with the long walks, I gained two pounds.
Tying up all the strangling ends, such as blogs and correspondence them I'm just writing.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Status: Writing book #7
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Monday, September 24, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
In Real Life®, I've tried to avoid conflict whenever possible. Personal drama so isn't my thing. Mind you, it doesn't always work, but I think I've been fairly successful in developing positive conflict-avoidance techniques. My life is primarily even-keeled, with only a few big waves now and then, and that's the way I like it.
As a writer, however, my job is to create as much conflict as I can for my characters. To give them seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome, and when they conquer those obstacles, throw even harder problems in their paths. Conflict, as they say, keeps readers turning the page.
You see the dichotomy, don't you? How does someone who does her best to avoid conflict in her own life figure out how to create conflict in her writing?
It ain't easy, let me tell you. At least, it hasn't been for me. I think one reason my early stories fizzled out within a few chapters was my inability to create strong conflict, as well as my inability to sustain that conflict. Who wants to read stories where everybody works at getting along and understanding one another? Can you say boring? I knew you could.
Even now, I struggle with writing conflict. In fact, one of the major things I check for during editing is conflict. Right now, as I'm working my way through THE LAZARUS GAMBIT for the third—and hopefully final—time, I have a list of things to watch out for and at the head of that list is this: Make it Worse! I've already strengthened the conflict in several scenes and won't be surprised to rewrite several more.
I wish I could say that I've figured out how to easily inject believable conflict into my stories and no longer have to worry about this impediment to my writing. But the truth is, I doubt that will ever be true. I'll always have to consciously work on conflict, because it doesn't come naturally to me.
How about you? As a writer, do you struggle with conflict, or do you find that aspect of writing easy (and, oh, how I envy you if you do)? As a reader, how do you feel about conflict — does it ever feel like writers are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at characters, or can there never be too much conflict?
Monday, September 17, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
Status: Pub date: December 1, 2012
Throughout the life of this chapter, it has struggled to survive. The only time we had enough members to really function well was during Genene's presidency. At that time, I believed we had made it and the chapter would continue to grow. Not really sure what happened.
If Genene joined the chapter in '92 I must have joined around 1990. I know that I was only a member for a couple of months before I was elected secretary. The members were thrilled to have an eager new author among their ranks.
Before I could blink, I was president. I don't remember how long I held this office. I know it was at least four years. It might have been longer.
Genene do you remember how long I was president?
Anyway once again, I held the office until I could talk someone else into doing the job. If my memory holds true that person was Michelle Marks. Again, Genene jump in any time.
As a chapter we held a conference every year. We met authors such as Susan Wiggs, Stella Cameron, Robin Hatcher, Lisa Jackson, Catherine Anderson, and so many more...
I would never give up those times. They were so rewarding. I hold them dear to my heart and am so saddened by the end. Although like Genene I understand that it is probably the right decision. I would love to get together with the authors of this chapter from time to time, however, I fear that this will most likely not happen.
I hope someone with lots of organizational skills can put something together a couple of times a year.
It's been such a great journey. As tears brim in my eyes, I'm going to quit.
Thank you to all the wonderful people I have met through this chapter.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Status: Wrapping up book #6
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel
Monday, September 10, 2012
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Monday, September 03, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Status: Almost finish with rough draft.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Status: Book #4 releases September 1!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel