Monday, December 31, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A New Beginning...

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

Change is in the Air

Things are changing around here. Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's just overdue. Either way, you'll see a brand new blog very soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

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?

Happy Holidays!

Deborah Wright
Website: www.Deborah-Wright.com
Twitter: @DeborahBWright
Facebook: Deborah.Wright.Author

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays

Wow, it's not the same format as before. I've missed my last two or was it three posts so I was determined not to forget this one.

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

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ME & MY DOGGIE CREW!


What to wear, what to wear--no, wait! What to write, what to write!

Yep, got the reminder that it's my turn to blog tomorrow--well, technically, it's now today. And I've been dashing around all day and am just now getting to writing my blog post. 

My doggies are asleep and I'm still at my computer. Responded to some comments from the online Christmas party I'm participating in. Read someone else's funny Christmas blog. And I've added enough words have my blog post is partway done. :)

I'm going to make this short and easy, and just say Happy Holidays from me and my doggie crew to all of you! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

CREATIVITY COMES IN MANY FORMS

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
Status: Working on book #8
Posted by: Genie Gabriel




I'm going to stray from the topic of writing for this post to give a shout out to other creative outlets. One of my friends, who paints fabulous water colors, has a number of her paintings hanging in the Red Raven Gallery in downtown Salem. I went to see her and missed her by probably less than a minute because it took me so looong to find a place to park. I hope that meant there were lots of people enjoying the Art Walk downtown. There are twenty-one locations downtown exhibiting the work of local artists through the end of December.

I've been in my writing cave so long I'd forgotten how I love the work of other artists. Not just paintings, but wood carvings (I love to touch wood but restrained myself), pottery, jewelry, knitted or crocheted scarves. Pretty much anything creatively handmade. 

I was also reminded how lucky I am to have friends who are talented. Several of them women named Kim--one who does finely detailed drawings and paintings; another who is taking fabulous photos; another growing her own grapes and making wine. And at least two friends--not named Kim--who make incredible quilts.

I'm not going to list all the incredibly talented people I know who have creative outlets besides or in addition to writing. The list would be very long and I'd keep updating the post as I thought of yet another talented person.

So, though we're two weeks past Thanksgiving, I'd like to say how thankful I am to know such talented people--in addition to writers, of course! The beauty of their creativity is one of the things that fills the well of my soul. So thank you all for the beauty your bring to this world. 

And if you have a creative outlet other than writing, please share what it is. I know many writers also find joy in other creative outlets.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's final weekly progress check-in before the awards announcements at the end-of-year party.

The chapter officers will be counting up the weekly check-ins for the year and will award gift certificates from Powell's bookstore to the member and the non-member who have checked in the most weeks during this year.

So, how have you done this year on reaching your goals?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Winding Up or Winding Down

Hi, all.

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. :-)

Barb
Barbara Cool Lee

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Great Escape

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

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
Status: Deep in book #8
Posted by: Genie Gabriel


Maybe it's because I haven't started Christmas shopping or even thought about it much, but this year--for a change--Thanksgiving actually seems to have its own space and isn't just jammed between other holidays on the rush toward the end of the year.  

My grown sons will attest that I'm not much for traditions. On holidays, we do whatever we feel like doing and not always on the day designated by most of our society. However, I do have much to be grateful for and would like to share part of that list--some serious, some silly--that hopefully will bring a smile or a nod to you.

-- My "work" is things I love to do.

-- My house is warm and dry.

-- I can see that darn blinking cursor, and most of the time there are words beside it.

-- My dogs adore me--as long as meals are on time--and love to cuddle.

-- I have the power to heal and sometimes I quit whining long enough to use it.

-- I can walk, I can run--though kinda slowly--and I can laugh.

-- My sons and grandkids take time from their own lives to play cards or board games with me.

-- The lights still come on when I flip the switch and the thermostat on the furnace works.

-- The dishes are washed and the dusting can wait another few days.


AND I am also especially grateful to other writers who take the time to support each other and to share their thoughts. Please share one or two of your own special items of gratitude if you are so inclined and aren't too exhausted from shopping. :) 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Merely Wounded

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

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, November 09, 2012

Disney Land 2012

Current Project: Highland Miracle
Status:Chapter 2 Scene 2

At the moment, just having fun. Sharing some pictures.

It's a rainy day Thursday but it's not Oregon rain.

 Space Mountain


Ferris Wheel in California Adventure.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
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

Promise Yourself...
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

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Book Trailers


Today I'm going to talk about the 2012 RWA National Workshop, Deciphering Book Trailers.

The speaker was Jeannie Ruesch

In addition to being an author, she also owns a design firm called Will Design For Chocolate (which makes me hungry just looking at it!).

I went to this workshop knowing nothing about book trailers. I'd never even watched one!  After the workshop, I really think it's something fun and interesting to do for your book promotion.

It can get expensive, though, so I haven't done it yet, and am not going to spend a bunch of money for a professional to create one for me. I will have to invest time to make one myself, so for now it's on the back burner for me.

Here are some of the book trailers she showed at the workshop:

Death of a Cure (notice not too many details/cryptic)

Jonathan Fields (incredibly powerful)


It's hard to summarize the workshop, since she went through each video, showing what worked and what didn't, but here are some general tips:

•create an emotional response in viewer. Push their buttons. Make them feel.

•set up expectation/anticipation

•You have 10 seconds at most to hook them.

•don't try to squeeze in a whole synopsis! It's not a query letter. You're setting mood, expectations. Trust the reader to fill in the gaps.

•"You have to respect the fact that imaginations are deeply private."--Peter Mendelsund, Knopf book jacket designer

•Don't tell the story! Create an emotional connection, pull them in, make them want to find out what happened. Leave them wanting more.

•Short sentences--none longer than 5 words. A power word in every sentence.

•Use the images. Don't just have an image of kissing to illustrate the word kissing. Don't be so literal. Use an unexpected twist. An example was a video for a suspense book that first showed a woman tied up to convey, duh, a woman held captive. But when the image was changed to images of a dark, scary place/a hand coming out of the darkness/shadows, it was actually more effective than a literal image of kidnapping. Look for that compelling image, not the most obvious one.

A final word, not from the workshop, about all this marketing jazz: http://youtu.be/OFki2O8-28s

So, have you made a book trailer? Do you want to? Have you ever seen one? If you have seen some book trailers, which ones have you liked/found effective?

Next time, on November 14th, I'll either be talking about Christmas books (if I have mine done!), or non-Kindle publishing outlets.

Until then, happy writing, everyone. :-)

Barb
author of the Pajaro Bay romantic mystery series

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FLEXING YOUR FLEXIBILITY

Current Project: Book #7 of Halo Legacy Series
Status: Almost finished!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel




I've come to think one of the most useful traits for a writer is flexibility. Why? Let's consider:

--Most writers also have a "day job," at least when they start writing. So you write when you can.

--Most writers also have other commitments and roles (spouse, mother, daughter, aunt, friend, pets, volunteer, etc.--you can add to this list). So you juggle your many different roles and hope everything doesn't come crashing down.

--When polishing a story, a critique partner might not like a particular part of your story or, heaven forbid, one of your main characters. Do you revise or feel strongly enough to leave it alone?

--When trying to get published, an agent or editor might not like a particular part of your story and ask for revisions, with still no guarantee of a sale. So do you revise or submit somewhere else?

--After you've sold a manuscript, an editor might request revisions. Do you revise or risk losing the contract? 

--Your cover sucks. Do you request something different or make the best of it?

--Sales are so-so or almost nonexistent. Do you hide in your cave or come up with a different marketing plan?

Yes, it's been a week or so of needing flexibility for me. How about? Are there other instances for you where flexibility has been your friend?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Building Reader Loyalty Workshop Highlights


Today I'll be talking about my impressions of this workshop from the 2012 RWA National Conference:

Speakers: Nancy Berland, Sheila English, James Rollins, Barbara Vey, Rebecca York

The speakers were:

Nancy Berland of Nancy Berland Public Relations (bestselling clients like Debbie Macomber)

Sheila English of Circle of Seven Productions (she popularized the book trailer) 

James Rollins, author of bestselling thrillers 

Barbara Vey, book blogger at Publishers Weekly 

Rebecca York, NYT betselling author 

What a line-up! This workshop was packed with information on connecting with readers. I'll try to highlight some of the discussion, but I highly recommend getting the workshop audio on this one as well.

Here are some of their tips, in no particular order:

•First, last, and everything in between: be respectful, kind and interested in all your interactions with readers. Treat readers well and they will be loyal.

•subscribe to Barbara Vey's twitter feed--she's one of the top 10 book bloggers 

•the core of reader loyalty is forming a relationship. Ways to do that: answer your own email; provide a contact button on your web site; make interaction with you easy and fun.

•social media takes time from writing. You have to balance it. You must get the writing done first. The book is most important.

•Rebecca York: only put up positive stuff on social media; make people feel excited about you. Do not engage with negativity. Don't respond to bad reviews or negative people. Stay positive. People are attracted by positive personalities.

•Be consistent in your writing (consistent with your book brand, in other words). Tone, genre should be in keeping with your writing style. Don't write dark and gloomy posts if your books are humorous. Don't get into off-topic areas that clash with your brand.

•Off-topic areas that are consistent with your brand are great, though. For example, if you write cozy mysteries, topics like cooking, gardening, or travel might be of great interest to your readers. Just keep with the same type of topics that your readers will be interested in.

•You have to care about your readers. Connect with them. Don't just push books at them, but talk about common interests and find ways to get them involved. Talk about them, too, not just about yourself. See things through their eyes and ask them questions.

•Consistency builds trust; be consistent in your books and in your social media.

•Readers want to believe you are a wonderful person; don't betray that trust.

•Some people hire assistants to tweet or post for them. No one on this panel liked that idea. It's a kind of lie to the reader, to imply they are getting to know you but you're not even there. It feels forced and false, and betrays that trust you want to build with them.

•Maintain a privacy wall. Don't reveal personal things you want to keep private. Don't talk about your kids or your location in detail if you want that private. Choose your topics wisely. Sharing a recipe is great. Sharing your child's school location is not.

•Remember that if a reader contacts you, they are trying to engage. Welcome them and make them feel happy about that connection. Ask them about themselves; don't always talk about yourself. Ask questions.

•Reader appreciation luncheons (like Debbie Macomber does) are wonderful. Any in-person event is golden. Book festivals, signings.

•Pick some venues. You can't do everything. Website is the basic starting point. (Look at James Rollins' website--apparently it's very well done.) They recommend also doing something more immediate than a website--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Something immediate with a lot of interaction.

•Give gifts and prizes. Digital giveaways are good, like a short story or first 3 chapters of a book. Enter to win a book dedication; enter to win a mention in the book (make sure they sign a disclaimer so they don't sue if they hate their namesake character!); enter to name the pet of the hero, etc. These are really fun for readers.

•James Rollins sends bookplates overseas--see his website to see how he does it.

•Asking for volunteers or ambassadors or street teams (whatever you choose to call them) is a great thing for readers. Many love to feel they are helping you succeed. Send them periodic thank yous/excerpts/bookmarks. They are glad to talk up your book, like it on facebook, retweet for you, write reviews, etc. Be appreciative; let them know how much they are helping you.

•Reward loyalty. Make the reader feel special.

Whew. Like I said, I recommend this workshop if you're getting involved with promotion, because it focuses on what's important: connecting with readers and making them feel involved.

Next time, I'll be posting a summary of the book video workshop I attended. Unfortunately that one wasn't taped (probably because it had so many visuals), but it was fabulous and I'll try to gather some coherent thoughts from my notes to share here on October 31st.

Happy writing, everyone!

Barb

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

WRITE FASTER!

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
Status: writing book #7



Because I'm in deadline mania, writing faster is much on my mind. What helps me write faster? Here are some suggestions:


1. Deadline panic! I'm past my deadline and my publisher is being soooo nice.
2. BICHOK--the old "butt in chair, hands on keyboard" really does work for me. When writing moves to the top of my priority list--well, except for doggies and eating--I produce words.
3. Write every day. This kinda goes along with BICHOK. When the story is fresh in my mind, jumping back into it is much easier.
4. Make sure the research is done. When I have to stop in the middle of a book to do research, it really slows me down. I enjoy research and can become sidetracked easily. That can be very time-consuming.
5. Detailed plotting. I can hear pantsters moaning, but if I know where I'm headed, I get there faster. 
6. Know the craft of writing. Much of what slowed me down in the early years of my writing was I didn't have an intuitive feel for the structure of a novel. Well, that "intuitive feel" was a learned skill for me. I had to write a lot (some say at least a million words) before I knew when I should be introducing new issues and when it's time to wrap up subplots because the black moment is fast approaching.
7. Don't be afraid to "slash and burn." There comes a point in my editing when deleting is my friend. Notes to myself, phrases that make me go "huh?", scenes I love but don't move the story forward--all gotta go!


This is soooo much different than when I first started writing. It took fourteen years from the start of my first book until it was published. Granted, the first book was completely rewritten six or eight times. Also, I drafted several other books while I submitted the first one to publishers. However, this is still a long time. 



There are more ways I use to speed up my writing, but how about you? Do you have techniques that help you write faster?

Monday, October 08, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Audiobooks Part 2


In my July 25th blog, I discussed creating audiobooks through acx.com, which helps you find narrators who can produce a finished audiobook for you. The audiobooks are then distributed to Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon. 

I dipped my toes in the audiobook water with my first project, Cat's Blood, a vampire short story. In the three months since its release, the audiobook for this short story has earned back only about the cost of producing it. So it's not exactly a barnburner, but it broke even, and I own the audio rights for seven more years, so it might in the end be a bit profitable.

I decided to do a second project, just to see how a full-length book would work.

For this project, The Honeymoon Cottage, the first book in my Pajaro Bay series, I wanted a young woman's voice to match the age and personality of the heroine.

I ending up working with a narrator named Elizabeth Siedt, a younger actress (in fact, I think this may have been her first audiobook project). I went with a newer narrator because the price was a lot more reasonable than the very experienced actor I had hired for my short story. Since you pay by the finished hour, I was able to produce the entire full-length book for about the same cost as the short story.

So, did I learn anything from this second project? 

First, if your book contains any regional terms or foreign words, you'll need to tell your narrator how to pronounce them (think of how someone from outside of Oregon might pronounce Willamette for a good example!). I had several Spanish phrases in my book, and of course the title of the series itself contains a Spanish word, Pajaro (the Spanish word for bird). Many of the auditioning narrators didn't pronounce the words correctly, and I realized how, because of my own background, I hadn't considered the variation in accents and pronunciation in other parts of the country. So I ended up creating a pronunciation guide for narrators. I was able to find a vocabulary lesson online that provided audio of Spanish words, and linked to that. If you are using something more unusual (say, you created a new language for your fantasy world), you might need to record yourself reading those words and upload it. Funny how we don't think about things like that until we hear our own work read aloud.

With that little issue solved, I narrowed down the auditions to a couple of potential narrators. One was an experienced actress from San Francisco. She had a wonderful delivery, but had a bit more mature and soothing voice that wasn't quite what I was looking for. The other was the one I picked. I had several people listen to the samples, and the decision was unanimous to go with Elizabeth Siedt. She captured the tone of the story well, and read in a really appealing way that seemed to fit the young heroine.

The audiobook was released September 19. Surprisingly, it immediately jumped into the top 40 in audible.com's romantic suspense category. It's been selling steadily since release, though I haven't done any real promotion for it. I noticed the majority of buyers were audible.com regulars who used their membership credits to buy the book, so I think they were just stumbling across it.

This project has already, in twelve days, earned back more than its production cost, and appears on its way to becoming quite profitable. I'm now scrambling to get another one produced ASAP, and would love to have my Christmas book available in audiobook form by holiday time.

My second attempt at producing an audiobook appears to have been more successful. It's hard to tell at this point, but I understand some listeners like to read along in the text while they listen, so that may account for a bit of a spike in e-book sales for this title that happened around the same time.

So, as I asked in the first blog, is it worth the bother to produce an audiobook version of your self-published work? In this case it clearly seems to be. I'm already making money on the book, and two of the reviews specifically mentioned wanting more in the series to listen to. So I think this could be a good supplement to my writing income.

Now I just have to scramble to finish my Christmas story and see if I can get it produced before this year's Christmas trees end up in the recycling pile....

Happy writing, everyone!

Barb
Hear a free sample of The Honeymoon Cottage

Monday, October 01, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Woops forgot to do this last night!

Current Project: Catching Meara
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.


This is the lighthouse at Yaquina Head and the setting for The Locket.


Now, back to work!




Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'M DOING MY OWN mini-NaNoWriMo

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
Status: Writing book #7
Posted by: Genie Gabriel


G'day, all!


Here's a video that would have been fun to see when I was writing my book with the doctor heroine the last couple months: . These guys are "A group of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists that create and perform musical medical parodies throughout the United States." Great voices and funny songs. 

(The cover for that book is at left. This is the one several of you helped me choose a title for during the summer. Yes, I went with your suggestion. So thank you!)

Although it's probably good I didn't find this or I could have been side-tracked on the Internet for hours. For me, this is one of the dangers of research. 

Fortunately, my current book doesn't require as much research. I really would like to have a solid draft of this book done by the end of September--that's about 4500 words a day. Doable? Well, my world has narrowed pretty much to writing and meeting the basic needs of my herd of doggies. Other requests are met with a frown and a growl. (From me, not the doggies.) 

Well, except when I receive a link to a fun video from a friend or need to write a blog post. After all, I do need a break from the computer once in a while so I don't become a permanent part of the chair. :) I hope to have good news about the status of my latest book to share at our meeting next Thursday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Make it Worse!

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?

Deborah Wright
Twitter: @DeborahBWright
Facebook: Deborah.Wright.Author

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

More Memories

Current Project: Edits for A Marriage of Inconvenience
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

MEMORIES

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
Status: Wrapping up book #6
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel


With the vote at the last meeting to dissolve our chapter, I feel the need to blog about something related to that. I'm just not sure what direction my ramblings will take. 


I joined RWA and the Mid-Willamette Valley chapter in 1992--twenty years ago. I didn't need to think about joining very long. I walked into a group of writers as a visitor and wrote out a check that night. I thought I'd found heaven. 

Over the years, I attended conferences and meetings, frantically taking notes from speakers who were writers--published writers! Oh, the things I learned! And realized I had so much more to learn. 

I found critique partners, entered contests, submitted to editors, became a chapter officer. And became a published author that others looked to for suggestions and answers. 

Over all those years as I was evolving, so was the publishing industry and technology. A number of factors led to the dwindling membership in our chapter. I am sad to see the chapter dissolve, but I also think it was the right decision for this time in our history. 

As we wrap up our business affairs, that sadness is mingled with anticipation that publishing holds many opportunities for good stories with more options coming in the near future. 

I hope to stay in touch with many of our members, and look forward to watching the careers of fellow writers take flight. May you all believe in your dreams and keep writing!


Please visit my Web site at www.GenieGabriel.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Copyright


(FYI: All of the following post applies to the issue of copyright for authors within the United States. YMMV)

Here's an aspect of self-publishing I totally overlooked--and I imagine I'm not alone in that.

Copyright.

Yeah. I know. Yawn. But hey, it's worth spending a little time thinking about.

If your work is published by a major publisher, generally they will register copyright for you, but if you self-publish, you need to decide if going through the registration process is something you want to do.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf has a good explanation of copyright. Your copyright exists from the moment you create the work. That's the law. You don't have to do anything for your work to be copyrighted; it is automatically yours from the moment you create it. That means you may sell it, or give it away. It's yours. Others do not have the right to sell, loan or give away your work without your permission.

So if you already own the copyright, why register it?

For one reason, if you don't register your copyright, it becomes more difficult to prove that your work belongs to you. For example, some authors have received letters from Amazon.com asking for proof the author has the right to publish the book.

If the work was previously published, and the rights have reverted to you, it's generally easy to prove. You can show the letter or contract stating that the rights have reverted to you and the book is yours.

But what if this is original work and you just put it up online for the first time?

Yes, the law says it's yours, but registering your copyright with the United States Copyright Office is a form of protection. It is a legal record of your work, and a legal claim of your rights to that work.

So how do you register copyright? The United States Copyright Office has actually made this remarkably easy for digital authors.


You wil need to create an account with them, which enables you to file copyright claims.

Then you fill out the form online, pay the fee ($35 for online filing), and upload a digital copy of your book.

You will then receive a receipt showing you have applied for copyright registration, and approximately 2.5 months later (according to their site), you will receive your registration certificate.

That's all there is to it. 

Not the most exciting topic, but an important one, so I thought I'd mention it.

(I've been super-busy this week, or I threw this topic out there. Next time I'll get back to reviewing workshops from RWA National.)

Happy writing everyone.

Barb

Monday, September 03, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Paris In The Fall (even though this was taken in the summer)

Current Project: Catching Meara
Status: Almost finish with rough draft. 


Paris -- ah -- I must be in need of a vacation!

School is starting for the second year without me. Woo hoo !!!!!!

The forest is closing for weekdays starting the day after Labor Day. (Enchanted Forest) 

My focus will be changing in the next couple of days. I told Genene "Things were going to be slowing down." She kind of laughed at me. I think the terminology was a bit off. The focus will be different but nothing will be slowing down. 

I want to write about characters or plotting or something, but I'm once again in dire need of a topic. So many blogs and not enough topics. I love the marketing blogs. 

Pinterest still befuddles me. (This is a picture I took several years ago) It is beyond me why people would post pictures they want to sell on a site that allows easy copying. There is no place to buy a picture and there are no watermarks. Sigh... I did love using the pinterest pictures. But alas, I have abandoned them.

However,  pinterest is another source to market your books. One can put excerpts, blurbs, loglines and covers on pinterest to promote your book. I'm not sure if Barb (or was it Deb?) covered this in her last blog. She did mention pinterest. I have put most of my covers up and I'm in the process of finding pictures of heroines and heroes that I can put on my boards. It's fun but time consuming. 

(I would be happy to post other authors covers on my boards) 

I've fallen down this last three weeks on a lot of my advertising and I have seen a decrease in sales. Don't know if that is because school is starting and people are returning from vacations or because I haven't been advertising. Food for thought...

I have however, come to the conclusion that constant advertising once place or another is essential.

More ideas, what works and what doesn't are all greatly appreciated. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

PROMO & PRIZES!

Current Project: Legacy Series
Status: Book #4 releases September 1!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel

Wow! One of those days when I have lots to talk about. At first, I thought this was all about me, me, me--and my books. However, there's a chance at goodies for everyone!

THE PROMO: A new release on September 1, book #4 of my Legacy Series, CHASING THE LEGACY. 
THE PRIZES: You can still get in on the drawing for a $15 gift certificate to Amazon.com through August 31. Just leave a comment on my blog. Then I'll be starting a new contest for September/October.

THE PROMO: The first book of my Legacy Series, PICTURE PERFECT LEGACY, will be featured exclusively on the Kindle Select program for the next 90 days…
THE PRIZES: ...with FREE downloads August 31, Sept. 1 & 2.

THE PROMO: I have a guest blogger, Lynda Aicher, on my Legacy Blog today (Thursday) talking about her Energen Series with dragons and shape-shifters. 
THE PRIZES: She'll also be giving away copies of her ebooks.

THE PROMO: I'm part of an online scavenger hunt starting September 1 that runs through October 31
THE PRIZES: Visit blogs of a bunch of different authors to find the answers to questions for a chance to win lots of gift cards, Kindles, and scads of ebooks.

THE PROMO: Coffee Time will be hosting a contest for me during September. 
THE PRIZES: I'll have more info on my Web site on September 1 listing the prizes.

Whew! Hopefully, a good deal for everyone!