River City Romance Writers 2013 Writer’s Retreat

Promise of a new dayHome from another River City Romance Writer’s retreat and once again I have to say it was the best one ever!

Yes, I say this every year.  But I meant it every year too.

This year, author Candace Havens was our featured speaker, plus we had Karen Block, Turquoise Morning Press editor, and Pasha Carisle, Entangled Publishing copy editor.

We had a great time!  Everything from story element editing  to copy editing tips, research (in the form of a lap dance lesson and a mixology session-woot!), and networking (met some wonderful new writers and editors, plus caught up with several I’ve known for years).  But  most importantly, I’ve got inspired again.  As an author, writing is your business.  It is what you are and what you do.  Period.  Doesn’t matter if you feel like it, doesn’t matter if what you just wrote is the biggest pile of donkey crap ever, and it doesn’t matter if distractions are in overdrive at the moment.

Writing. Is. What. You. Do.

Since writing, the actual process of putting words on the page, is largely a lone activity, I find it quite easy to get caught up in the everyday ups and downs of life and the usual speed bumps that come with trying to balance everything.  So while writing is what I do, I sometimes lose a bit of my excitement, joy, and “Feel Good” mojo for it.  This doesn’t mean I get to quit. Oh no, this means I have to dig in harder and keep pushing.

After participating in Candace’s Dream Big and Fast Draft workshops, my “Can Do” spirit is back and shining brightly.  We had a good time learning new things, getting some writing done, and bonding over our respective journeys on this road to publication.  Sometimes, what you need is a break in your normal routine to focus on why you’re doing this to bring your happy feelings back.

I’ve been committed to my 2013 goals since January 1 and I’ve not wavered.  But now a new fire has been lit, a new energy is flowing, and I am chomping at the bit.  It’s the promise of a new day.

And if that’s not the hallmark of a good retreat, then I don’t know what is. 🙂

River City Romance Writers, RWA chapter #23

I was all set and prepared to do a blog about my local writer’s group, River City Romance Writers.  The plan was to let writers in the Memphis area know what a great group and resource we are.  And we’re not just for romance writers; we have authors of all walks of life here:  suspense, woman’s fiction, paranormal, urban fantasy… You name it, we got it.

 BUT my critique partner and chapter member, Robin Hillyer-Miles  beat me to it by doing excellent write up that was featured in The Commercial Appeal<– click the link to read the  full article and to see a pic of yours truly, along with a few other RCRW members.

Before you head over to The Commercial Appeal to check out the write up, here are a couple of key events we have coming up:

Duel on the Delta contest:
The 20th annual Duel on the Delta contest is open and taking submissions through March 15th.  This is a great contest and excellent way to get your manuscript in front of some of the top editors in the industry. And no I’m not just saying that because it’s my chapter sponsoring it. 🙂  We have an excellent line up of final judges for each category (including editors  from Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, Bethany House, Harlequin, and Oceanview Publishing).  Plus each and every entry is scored by 3 trained judges using a detailed 2 pg score sheet.  Each entrant will receive their submission back with their scores and 3 sets of feedback.  You can’t beat that.  For more information click here.

Spring Retreat:
Come join us April 9th as we host award-winning author Karen Doctor as she teaches us techniques on avoiding the dreaded sagging middle with the W Plot (a hands on workshop);  and best-selling author and President Belle Books, Deb Dixon as she speaks on the current state of the publishing industry.  For more information, click here.  Also, if you join RCRW before the retreat, you can attend at a discounted cost.

Low Country Retreat Recap

I’m fresh back from my trip to Charleston, SC. 2 of my crit partners, along with another member of RCRW, drove down to attend the Low Country Writers beach retreat.  It was a small, weekend retreat that was quite productive for me.  I took advantage of the scenery and the quiet time to get some writing done.  I am proud to say that I knocked back a total of 4,337 words while I was there.

That’s quite the accomplishment considering all the distractions I encountered  (like the beach, sightseeing, the beach, the excellent food, the beach, the wine, and let’s not forget the beach….). 🙂

All in all, a great trip for me.  Being away from everything allowed me the opportunity to really focus on my wip.  Here’s my writing desk I set up during the retreat portion of the trip:

The Beach Bound Retreat itself was a small, cozy affair.  There were workshops going on, but if you wanted to just go sit and write you could.  And I did, as evidenced by the pic of my writing desk-lol).  I found the tranquility and white noise sitting on the back deck listening to the ocean + the tunes from my Pandora station to be the balm to my writer’s soul (ok, that was cheesy, but you get the point) and I couldn’t resist it.

However, I did attend a couple workshops and my favorite 2, by far, were “Welcome to the World, Baby Book”  led by debut authorKieran Kramer and “20 Ways to Kill a Novel”, led by Joanna Wayne.

Kieran’s workshop was a fun, upbeat look at the journey of an author.  She shared several motivational points and overall advice on how to keep your wits about you as you write, polish, and sell your novel.  She shared her 9-1-1 rule (which is all about staying focused and pushing through the hump to complete a draft) and she gave us all a prescription to take ADVIL whenever we need it: Attitude, Depth, Validation, Involvement, Laugher.

Joanna couldn’t whittle her list down to 20 items, so she actually shared with us 25 ways that we would kill our books.  The list is mostly of stuff I’d heard at some point in time before, but I really enjoyed her chat, along with the personal recounts she peppered throughout it.   The list contains such standards as lack of motivation, too much back story, too much telling, not enough showing, etc.  But one thing I’d never thought about was the fact that you may have your book set in the wrong  location or time.  Setting never consciously occurred to me as being an area that could kill a story.  But when you think about it, it’s obvious.  The group spent a bit of time talking about this as we came up with examples of how certain books would not work if you change the environment in which they are set.  Joanna also recounted how she once used her story idea , along with the plot twists and her characters’ GMC to back her way into the setting for the story.  This chat really made me look at setting in a different way.  I really get the adage of using “setting as a character” now.

It was very pleasant the entire weekend and I got lot accomplished, not only with writing, but I was able to de-stress and unplug a little.  And with the beautiful views  how could I not. 🙂 Also, I got to meet some new authoring comrades & I even won a prize, Kieran Kramer’s debut novel “When Harry Met Molly”.

I had a  great time down in Charleston and will be blogging over at  A Bit of Clarity about some of my non-writing adventures in the Low Country in the upcoming weeks.