It’s here, finally. The end of 2012. We’re on the cusp of 2013, a bright, shiny new year not yet failing to meet our expectations. I’m looking back on my writing year, and then taking a look ahead at 2013. Come along, and see what I’ve been up to!
So in Looking Back, this year I’ve:
Turned in the manuscript for DEMON HUNT – it pubbed 7/16 of this year.
Cover for Demon Hunt, by Taria A. Reed.
Turned in the short story BLOOD DREAMS – it pubbed 6/1 of this year.
Invited to write a short-SHORT play based on The Rose, by the Brother’s Grimm; wrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it again; turned it in; it had it’s debut at the Crescent Heights High School in the Spring. Totally delighted.
Went to Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in April; got to hang with old friends, meet up with new ones, and began a relationship with the amazing Brenda Chin of Harlequin. Also met up with Beth Yarnall of OCC RWA and Debra Mullins of EVA RWA; they both asked me if I would be interested in speaking at their chapter meetings. I said yes, of course. ULP!
Worked on “A Run for the Money” and “Evie’s Song” and “Jesse on the Verge”; pitched them, sent them off ; got rejected.
Joined in with friends for a Summer Camp writing group for the month of June. We still meet – Summer Camp has changed into Boarding School. Some of the most creative, intelligent, fun, supportive, and wonderful women – I’m a lucky girl!
Started “Weightless”, a YA story set in a ballet company; wrote 50k on that. Needs a rewrite and it needs to be finished. BUT – pitched it, sent it off, got rejected. I’m okay with that. Sent it in to a contest – and got great feedback.
Got a phone call from Brenda Chin on the last Monday in July (just before RWA National Conference) – she requested a manuscript that I pitched via a piece of paper! Woo! Sent it off. Have refrained from stalking her via phone or email. Suspect it’s not her cup of tea but will wait for the formal decision on it.
At the conference, I had several delightful, informal bump-intos with Brenda (at the booksigning, in front of Kathy Lyons‘ table, I introduced myself – she said, “I know who you are.” Squee!) (The next day, she bought me a cup of coffee! Double Squee!) Had a hard time not acting all fan-girl on her, but I managed to not totally embarrass myself. Pitched a new manuscript (that wasn’t even written – a HUGE no-no, but since she’d just requested one, I felt safe enough doing that). Needless to say, she hated it BUT – liked a turn of phrase. Gave me a plot. Said “write me that”. So – that’s what I’ve been working on, novel-wise, ever since.
In October, I joined a group called Fierce Backbone; a play development group made up of writers, actors, and directors. They’ve been reading and commenting on my first play (written in 2010/2011); if it ever gets to a staged reading, I’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops. Two people, one set. Imminently produceable.
In October, I also got to be the guest of honor at a book club. They read my book, talked about it, asked me a bunch of questions – it was fantastic and I learned a lot. Thank you Tabitha! And along with Lisa Kessler, I did a booksigning down at Starcrafts in San Diego – Teresa See and friends were lovely and gracious.
Because Fierce Backbone sparks creativity, I wrote a play for my husband for Christmas. Money being not floating from the sky, I needed to get darned creative. He loves it (whew!), and it needs rewriting – but that’s what I worked on almost exclusively from October to Christmas Eve. Dialog comes easy to me, so I’ll get more work done on it and submit to Fierce Backbone to get it into the Monday readings, and we’ll see how it goes!
In November, I gave my first-ever talk to East Valley Authors chapter of RWA. People took notes! They came up afterwards, thanked me, and asked questions! I shocked myself by actually being able to talk for an hour. But yeah, my inner actress was totally stoked.
I’m now (with the help of a couple of wonderful pairs of eagle-eyes) back at work on the Brenda Chin novel. I’ve got so much of it written – now it just needs to get cohesive. I am SO thankful that I’ll be taking a plotting course in January!
I’m taking on the mantle of President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors. I am predicting a calm, easy year (!).
I’m speaking at Orange County Chapter of RWA on January 12th; Los Angeles Romance Authors on January 20th.
I plan on finishing the Brenda Book in January and getting it off to her. Think I should really come up with a series idea to go along with this book and pitch that, too. Then, and only then, will I bug her about the other book. Just a friendly warning, Brenda. 😉
Then I really must get to Demon’s Rage, the final book in the Demon Trilogy. I’d like to get that one turned in by the end of March, then write two or three short stories in the world and turn all those in, as well.
Then back to Weightless, my Ballet YA. I’d love to get that one done up and send it around. If no one bites, I may just dip my toes into self-publishing. I love this book and it deserves to go somewhere.
March 15 – 17, I’ll be at the So Cal RWA Writer’s Conference, California Dreaming. Brenda Chin will also be there (according to the conference website).
Stalking seeing her will be very cool. If I don’t have that book done and turned in to her BEFORE then, I will just be a failure so there’s that! A good prod to productivity.
I’m not looking too much farther ahead than March. I have a lot to do in the next three months – besides all of the above, I have two plays to re-write.
RWA National Conference will be held in Atlanta this year. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go, even though I should since I’m chapter president and all. We shall see.
So, there it is – looking back, and looking ahead. How far ahead do you plan your year? Or do you let circumstances change your schedule?
Here’s hoping 2013 is your best year yet! Be safe out there tonight – remember there will be a lot of amateur drunks on the roads. Don’t drive if you don’t have to!
~ Until next year, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
It is no secret that I love romance novels. I started reading Harlequins when I was 13, eventually branching out to longer romance novels and then the subgenres of romance as time went on. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve read a lot of category romance.
That changed this week as I experienced the next step in the Uterus Chronicles (Episode 3, not yet written). After surgery, in the hospital, the first day I couldn’t do much but deal with the waves of pain and the waves of pain relief in the form of Percocet. Once my vision settled down though (everything rolled upwards – impossible to read the entire first day), I was ready to be entertained.
Though my hubby was ready and willing to entertain me, my brain wasn’t really in a chatty mood so I turned to the stack of category novels I’d brought with me. About half of them I’d picked up at the Romance Writers of America Conference in late July.
They were perfect. Fast reads, just detailed enough to drag me out of my circumstances, and yet short enough to give me a sense of accomplishment when I was done. I don’t remember when I read what, but from Wednesday through Friday, I read nine category-length novels. (There was no way in hell I was able to put my own words on paper; this seemed to be the next best thing.)
Here’s a sampling of what I read:
Night After Night by Kathy Lyons , Harlequin Blaze April 2012
I picked this up at conference the night of the booksigning. I’d met Kathy Lyons at RT in Anaheim 2011, and found her to be a hoot and a half. I’d nabbed one of her plastic cell phone holders, and use it every day at the day job, so I had to tell her about it. That she writes for Blaze is a bonus. (And I bumped into Brenda Chin while talking to Kathy, so that was fun!)
The novel? Loved it. An intriguing premise of two strangers sharing intimate dreams, which freaks out our sexy military hero; outside of sex, what secrets is he unknowingly sharing as he sleeps? Our heroine is no slouch in the dream department; nor is she a “typical” heroine, in that she has real physical issues. This novel weaves to a very satisfying, very romantic ending.
Tall, Dark & Reckless by Heather MacAllister Harlequin Blaze, July 2012
I started reading this one prior to surgery, and didn’t finish it until a couple of days later, so it took me a bit to get back into the rhythm of it. That said, I enjoyed it. Mark’s a journalist who tends to go with his gut (i.e., get a bit reckless in the field). Piper is a compatibility expert hired to find the perfect partner for Mark. Now, any reader of category knows these two will get together in the end. What was interesting was HOW they got past all their barriers to accept they belonged together.
This novel had the danger element in a Mexican drug trafficker that Mark needs to put down. While it wasn’t military, it had a military – or at least special ops – feel to it. Putting Piper in with a guy like Mark felt kinda like Carrie Bradshaw showing up in a Mission Impossible movie. Well, not really, but I had my doubts going into it. The writing, however, made everything work, so Kudos to Heather!
More Than He Expected by Andrea Laurence Harlequin Desire, July 2012
Another book I picked up at RWA 2012, I must say this book charmed the socks off me. Who wouldn’t love a playboy who melts, gets all protective and aroused around a pregnant woman? And not just any pregnant woman, but the one he had a no-strings-attached affair with, 8 months ago? Alex the wealthy, hardworking playboy and Gwen the nurse are two wonderful characters, and their story is a delight to read.
The baby isn’t his (but I can’t say more). As these two renew their acquaintance at a house party in the Hamptons, sparks fly, and it only takes a few days for love to flare between them. After I finished it, I put this book down with a happy sigh. Well-written, it evokes a lifestyle I’ve envied, and I truly enjoyed watching Gwen get pampered and Alex losing his heart to her.
Exquisite Acquisitions by Charlene Sands Harlequin Desire, August 2012
This book has a little bit of everything in it that I love. Auction houses, New York City, Hollywood, Cowboys, huge cattle ranches. Wealthy rancher Carter McCay hits up the auction house to buy one of the famous Tarlington diamond rings. He gets one ring, but not the girl…Macy Tarlington just wants to hide, and grieve, until the hoopla around the auction of her legendary actress mother’s things dies down.
Carter rescues Macy from a flock of paparazzi and invites her to escape to Wild River Ranch. She accepts this offer from a stranger, and both of their lives are changed forever. This is a jewel of a book, filled with surprises and delights as well as two strong main characters. I enjoyed every inch of their romance.
At a time when I was in and out of pain, when my brain cells were still shaking off anesthesia and I didn’t want to talk or watch TV but was desperate for a way out of my own head, category romance came to my rescue. There is just no way I could have followed bigger stories set on other planets (for instance) with multiple characters – my brain couldn’t have, WOULDN’T have, been able to process it.
My thanks and gratitude to all category writers everywhere.
Do you read category romance? Do you have a favorite line?
Thanks for stopping by!
Besides all the wonderful people I saw at conference, besides the fantastic roomies and the terrific luncheon speakers and the marvelous fun of watching the Golden Heart and Rita awards ceremony (though afterward it got to be way too much for my sense of balance, sigh), there were, first and foremost, the workshops.
This year there were a LOT of workshops on self-publishing. Of which I took, oh, um, none. But I’m not worried, I know the information is out there and I have some very good friends to lean on if I decide to go that route. But the point is, RWA is changing. Yes, slowly, but they’re changing. So huge props and kudos to them.
Of the workshops that I did take, well, I just flipped through my notebook full of notes. I learned so much, and reading through it refreshed my memory – but there’s far too much to share! So I’ll just do snippets.
Christyne Butler did an awesome workshop on the “Soapy Way to Writing Category”. In a nutshell? Watch the soaps. THAT’s how to write category. Each character’s voice is distinctive (which should be true no matter what you write); don’t waste words on places that aren’t a big part of the story. Plus she quoted Jenny Cruisie’s 2003 keynote speech – “don’t be a writer, be a storyteller”. It was the last workshop time of the conference – and I won a “Save the Cat” book by Blake Snyder! Very pleased, as I’ve been wanting that book. But I REALLY enjoyed Christyne’s presentation.
Tamara Hogan and Susan Sey gave a workshop on writing villains – they urged us to “embrace our inner sociopath”. “A great villain forces you to create a great hero.” This resonated with me, seeing as how I’ve got to really ramp up my villain in my Demon series. This one wasn’t recorded, but they were very funny and I learned a lot.
Erin Quinn gave a wonderful workshop on the Simply Organic Structure, which I’m definitely going to use in my next book. She highly recommends daily goals, and to keep track for a week or so to see how much, really, that you write in a day. Because as she put it, “if you don’t know how you do what you do, how can you replicate it?” Good question. This is definitely a workshop to listen to if you have access to the CDs from the conference.
Harlequin Blaze Author Tawny Weber (one of my FAVs) and Blaze editor Brenda Chin gave an excellent workshop on “everything I learned about writing I learned from writing category romance”. The important stuff in category? The Foundation. Hooks, Plot, Character and Pacing. First, know what line you want to write. Next, character and voice are paramount – everything else can be fixed. The Blaze books are about 50/50 in both the hero and heroine’s POV. Plus, the reader must love the hero right off the bat. Remember, the heroine is just like you and me – connect with the heroine’s fears quickly. Plus the love scenes MUST move the story forward. (Okay, here my notes degenerate into scribbles. But trust me, this is a MUST LISTEN if you want to write for Blaze in particular.)
I’ve been reading a LOT of Blaze books lately, and I can tell you they are similar in one area – they are highly charged, emotional, sexy books with main characters you fall in love with. But that’s it. The field is wide open there as far as story lines go, which makes me very happy. The voice that sells the best is a light, humorous, snarky one, but they accept other voices as well.
As a side note, I got to spend some time with Brenda at conference – it felt like those first two days, we kept bumping into each other, which was fun. We chatted about kayaking and camping (neither of which I have done in too long, drat it anyway) and all in all, my editor-crush is still in full bloom. I also had a formal pitch session to her (my pitch sucked, and she called me on it, lol) and she helped me wrestle out a plot. I can’t wait to dig into it and am doing research on the sly, in between words on the current book (which MUST get done by the end of August). Seeing both her and Tawny so soon after Desert Dreams was too cool. I also got to meet Blaze author Rhonda Nelson, and I really enjoy her writing so that was neat!
I was absolutely delighted to sit in on a workshop by Yasmine Galenorn, an online friend and the author of the Otherworld series which I love. Titled “From Witches to Dragons”, she made a clear delineation between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The goal in PR is saving the relationship. In UF, the goal is saving the world. That, right there, was a big ah ha! moment for many in the audience.
She had something to say about villains, too – she said the most interesting ones are the intelligent tricksters. And sex scenes? She says to get comfortable saying the words out loud. Make the sex scenes emotional, find that connection between the two (or more) and make the reader feel it.
Plus use the magic of “What if”!
So that’s all for now…my brain is exploding again with all the good info. Sorry there aren’t any pretty pictures. I’ve sworn off them for now while I figure out the new WANATribe picture sharing stuff.
On a SIDE Note – a book club organizer has contacted me about coming to speak to their club – they’re going to be reading DEMON HUNT next! Yay!
Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for your patience with me – I promise to get back to the wine blogs this week. Pinky-swear!