I didn't expect to go so long between blog posts, but that's how it goes sometimes.
Last weekend, I was in Seattle with a couple of my marvelous critique partners for the Emerald City Writers Conference put on by the Greater Seattle RWA. I'd heard good things before going, and you'll only hear raves from me. It was amazing, from the masterclass with Damon Suede (!) to keynotes by Damon, Beverly Jenkins, and Elizabeth Hunter (sadly, I missed most of hers due to my early flight), to the sessions (taxes and productivity have never been so fascinating) to the social stuff. I met fun, funny, smart, talented folks. And I took a big leap by pitching for the first time.
Five minutes from introduction to possible request for all or part of a manuscript? Yikes! But I did it (even though, as I predicted, I didn't look at my notes even once), and got a request from an agent I really like for the first 3 chapters and synopsis of Mine Would Be You. I'm giving them a last look before sending them off, but I was seriously flying high coming out of that room. It's not a promise that she'll want the whole manuscript, or will make an offer of representation, but it's a step forward. It pushed me to stretch and grow in ways I hadn't imagined.
That masterclass I mentioned? It was on characterization, and it was phenomenal. I can't say enough about it, truly. Damon Suede is one of those rare writers who can really teach. Not everyone can, but he's got that skill oozing out of his pores. I can't wait to put his ideas into play with my stories.
So with all of that, plus getting caught up at my day job, and starting NaNoWriMo (celebrating 3 years of writing fiction!) two days ago, things have been busy.
My head and heart are full to overflowing, and I'm ready to tackle new challenges. What do you want to try on for size?
Cheers, and best of luck!
So I'm off to Seattle on Thursday to attend the Emerald City Writers Conference for the first time. There are some notable names there: Beverly Jenkins, Julia Quinn, Damon Suede. And some others I hope to meet as well. I'm looking forward to the master class on Friday taught by Damon Suede, and the chance to meet lots of writers from outside my immediate area.
But here's the thing: I'm also signed up to pitch my book to an agent or editor. I've never really seen a pitch before (unless you count the instructional video by the aforementioned Damon Suede and Kristan Higgins), and I've never written or delivered a pitch before.
I am, quite frankly, terrified. Like, more nervous than I think I've been about almost anything I can think of in recent history. I'm really just hoping I don't vomit or pass out. Or both.
I couldn't be more happy (and relieved) to have my critique partners and friends, Neva Post and Elizabeth Allyn-Dean, along for the hair-raising ride. Whatever happens--success, failure, or embarrassment--I know they've got my back.
That's one of the most important things I've learned about joining the romance-writing community: it is the most supportive and encouraging group of people you will ever meet. I'm so lucky to count myself among them, and I hope I hold up my end of the bargain.
If I come back with good news, you'll see it here. If not...well, we'll see what I have to say about that. Either way, it's bound to be an exciting ride!
I know I'm not alone in feeling stress right now: from my day job, family health issues, and things going on in the world around me. So I'm taking a weekend to recharge and take care of myself. I'm at one of my thrice-annual craft retreats with my lovely lady crafters, and you would not believe the amount of talent on display here! There are quilters and scrapbookers, and handmade card makers (me) with a smattering of other creative endeavor-ers. (That kind of got away from me.). My plan is to alternate writing and card making, but we'll see what happens.
There will also be wine-drinking and storytelling (not only by me) and much laughter. I know I can always count on giggles with this group. There will be good food, and music, and naps, and staying up late. If I can figure out how (because I'm such a freaking newbie to this stuff), I'll post pictures. I will absolutely be tweeting some pics, so you can check my Twitter feed.
So in these tumultuous times, make sure to take care of you. Get away if you can, put on some noise-cancelling headphones if you can't. Go for a walk. Read a book. Watch a movie. Watch a sunset. Cuddle a pet. Snuggle a child.
Be kind to yourself. You're worth it. #selfcare
Tomorrow, Saturday, September 15, is the debut of a romance-only book club at my local public library. I'm so excited! Usually, romance readers must stumble across others of their kind or go online to blogs and forums to talk about what they love to read. This is a real, in-person opportunity to hang with romance peeps, and I couldn't be happier. I'll keep you posted on how it goes, but how could it be anything but glorious?
In other news, I'll be at the Alaska Writers Guild Conference in Anchorage next weekend. I'm moderating a panel for AKRWA on Saturday afternoon (Sept 22), and we'll be talking about writing to market and writing cross-genre work. I'm looking forward to spending time with more writerly sorts, and doing a couple of manuscript reviews. I'm also expecting my head to be full to overflowing by the end of the conference, so don't be surprised to see some good writing stuff dripping out of my ears.
Because I have an article in The ECHO (a community newspaper) featuring local romance writers and members of AKRWA: https://www.echoak.com/2018/09/romance-writing-in-our-midst/
We have a very active and supportive chapter of RWA, and I wouldn't be as far along in my journey as I am without them. If you are writing romance, or thinking you might like to, please check out your local chapter. Most will allow you to attend a meeting (or three) without joining. It's well worth the nominal fee I pay to have the support, mentoring, and friendship I've found there.
It's been a rough month for a variety of reasons, most pretty minor but piling on each other, but I'm happy to say that it's been a banner month for me with regard to reading romance.
I know I'm late to the party--I've been hearing about this series for over a year now--but I finally started reading Elle Kennedy's Off Campus series. It features students at a small college not far from Boston, and all the male main characters play hockey. Confession: I'm a sucker for sports romances. Doesn't matter what sport. It may not even be one that I'm willing to watch. There's something about characters who excel at physical feats that I couldn't hope to do that really works for me. Anyway, I like how the drama and conflict feels real and appropriate to that stage of life, and the way the relationships unfold gradually, and with fits and starts. It feels real, and I like that in a contemporary romance. So I just finished the second in the series, The Mistake, this morning, and I'll be starting book 3 (already downloaded) later today.
Also, I think I'll be making this a regular post here. I read a lot, not even kidding. I passed the 100 books mark last week for 2018, and hit a total of 176 for 2017. And one of the things I love as much as writing romance is making book recommendations in the genre. It makes me so very happy! So if you want a rec, let me know. But I don't generally make them blind, so give me an idea of what you've enjoyed in the past, whether by trope, author, setting, subgenre, or other appeal factor so I have something to go on.
I finally stopped tinkering with the website and published it, fully realizing that I still needed to tweak things. Is it obvious that I've never built a website before? Is my slip showing? Is my age showing? (Does anyone even wear slips anymore? I'm rambling now...)
Anyway, here it is. Tell me what you think. Is there something missing that you'd like to see? You know, besides actual fully-written and edited and published books. Ha!
Yeah, me too. One day, it will happen.
I'm getting close to the end with Mine Would Be You. I'm thisclose to the end of the 3rd draft (which is going through the gauntlet of my amazing critique group). Then one more draft to fix problems and smooth things out, and I'll start querying agents.
Next project: Tackle the first draft of Don't Close Your Eyes that's been marinating for a while now.
That's it for this week. Let me know what you're thinking about. Or whatever. All I ask is that you keep it kind and respectful. Otherwise, I'll sic my admin on you (my son, who has Very Strong Opinions about online discourse).