Thoughts

Kansas City Love Train

Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, MO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get on the train.

The love train!

After nine months of not submitting or really writing the wips I have for the submission process I have finally been jolted back into why I write.

Because I love it!

Thanks to the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City, Missouri I have watched my friends who are published have great fun and success at their events.  I’ve also made new friends and attended fantastic panels on craft (how to write) and business (how to sell to agents, publishers and editors).

So, I hit send on my email and sent off my short story last week.  Don’t worry – the nail biting has already begun on that one.  Thanks to the “Write 50 books in a Year” panel I now have an organized spreadsheet up until October of this year of what I’m writing and submitting.  Which will hopefully turn into a column of what gets accepted and what gets rejected on the spreadsheet as I continue writing, editing and submitting.

Kansas City, MO.  What a great city.  Home of jazz and historic downtown buildings.  With fun trips to the shopping centres and busy highways leading out of the city.  My drive from the airport took me past the Majestic Restaurant and Jazz Club http://www.majestickc.com/ and other hole-in-the-wall restaurant and clubs.  I even sped by the Friday Night Farmers Market http://www.badseedkc.com/farm/the-farmers-market/ which caught my attention with the words “Bad Seed.”

And thanks to Author Shawna Romkey’s family I visited and ate at the famous Arthur Bryant’s BBQ restaurant.  http://www.arthurbryantsbbq.com/index.htm

The convention really kept us hopping from morning until late at night.  It was fun but I found parts of it long winded so you really have to choose what you want to see and do.  Also, I know authors who had agents stand them up at appointments.  Meh.  It’s over 2,000 people – what do you do?

Had a great time at publisher spotlights on Entangled Publishing, Sourcebooks and ChocLit.

Oh, and I did visit JC Penny and Macy’s.  What’s a girl to do when you have one shopping day?

 

Writing away from an early age…

I had help cleaning out and de-cluttering part of the house last week with Bronwyn, my roommate.

Guess what I found?

Here’s a clue of what it looked like when I was thirteen and a huge Elfquest fan.

 

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This little blue binder was my lunch time escape ticket.  I hated the private school I was at and was frustrated that the people I knew since grade four were still there in grade seven.  Nothing had changed.  We were stuck in our patterns of conversation and social norms.  So, I would write in the library by myself.

 

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It even had a side pocket for notes from my bff and scribbles of revelations while I listened to the teacher talk during class.

 

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I love how it’s labeled “VOLUME 1″ as if I was Victor Hugo creating tombs of writing material in this new world.  Today, we call this fan fiction.  Elfquest was a comic that combined elves with wolves naming them Wolfriders and as the “volumes” continued they discovered more about their world and other elves in it.  I dreamed of elves paired with panthers that eventually met these Wolfriders.

“Things didn’t go so good at Blue Mountain…”  I wrote.  Unaware of writing principles and rules.  I was explaining the backstory instead of letting the reader discover it.  I was also thirteen.   LOL.

So, now, as I head into my revisions of a contemporary romance I keep this on my writing desk.  Just in case I want to explore the entire binder again which is full of elves and panthers uniting against evil in their world.

Thank you, Elfquest.

The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop

The amazing Debbie Robbins tagged me for this Blog Hop so here I am posting away secrets on my WIP.

And, guess what.  It’s a contemporary.

I’m frantically writing away as my New Jersey RWA group heads towards the finish line for Jerowrimo 2013 at the end of Feb.  So far, so good re: results!  However, this writing challenge I am working on book 2 of the fishermen characters.  These three brothers are getting into all kinds of trouble!

 

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Working title of my next book is Depth.  This is the story of Riley and his past that only Molly can help heal.

 

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Idea for the book came from the Deadliest Catch tv show and from reading a lot of contemporary stories out there.  While the perception of fishermen can be that they are “rough and tough” I thought I’d expose a softer side and a reality check for how dangerous this job really is.  The fishermen in my books live and breathe just like everyone else in their village but as it’s a small community they have wounds now that only these two new characters (the minister and his daughter Molly) can heal.

 

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Book is contemporary which is a slight deviant from my paranormal writing as Tara MacQueen.

 

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Actors… Riley would be Scott Anthony Smith (photo attached) and Molly would be Stevie Cooper (photo attached).  These are two actors I’ve worked with before and really see them in the role.

From Camden, Maine, USA I directed this actor at Maine Media Workshops

From Camden, Maine, USA I directed this actor at Maine Media Workshops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actress Stevie Cooper has been in a few of Charlie Mac Productions' works.

Actress Stevie Cooper has been in a few of Charlie Mac Productions’ works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
One sentence synopsis (hate these)…  Riley’s fisherman future drowned with the death of his parents until Molly Gregan moved into town to shake it up.

 

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be submitting to small press on this one.

 

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
November has 30 days, so 30 days part of Nanowrimo.  30 long days of wondering if I was going to make my deadline.  And now, as I go through some self editing I’m glad I did that challenge.  The book has brought my writing up a level.

 

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This story feels like Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay Series with the brothers and the boatbuilding business.  I don’t claim to be Nora      Roberts but it feels like I was inspired by this even though I read it all in 2002.

 

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See #8.  Definitely the great Nora Roberts.  I like Debbie Macomber, too.  Oh, and Donna Alward.  Check out this website http://www.chocolatebox.com  for other great authors along with https://www.facebook.com/pages/Romance-Writers-of-Atlantic-Canada-RWAC/

 

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
This book also involves a community broken by the devastating loss of Riley’s parents and Molly’s father, a United Church Minister helps to bring it together.  Wounds don’t heal in silence.  This book involves pain and redemption not just by a woman helping to heal a broken man but also a village finding love again after loss.

 

 

Jerowrimo prep

In order to prep for any writing challenge it’s necessary to decide what kind of animal you are with writing.

Do you have an outline or are going to put one down on paper/bulletin board?  This could mean you’re a plotter.  You like to know how characters will develop throughout the chapters ahead of time or maybe you have an idea of the order of scenes you want to develop your character arc in…

If you don’t do any of that you may be a panster.  You just write.  Your characters are in your head knocking on your ears to get out.  Great.

Either method works and I sometimes use a combination of the two.  I did so much traveling last year that I would get dream like story ideas as I dozed away on the plane and immediately grab my iphone to write up a sentence or two of what I remembered.  These little gems are filed away in my “to do” file on my laptop and are festering in the back of my head for any writing challenge I undertake.

So.  I already have enough coffee lined up for the month of Feb.  I know when and where I need to visit family and friends.  I’m twitching to use the Twitter hashtag #1K1HR at will multiple times a day.

I also know exactly what I’m doing with Charlie Mac and my Beachbody business so I don’t feel like I can’t write each day.  I have a schedule all planned.

Time to get in the writing kitchen and put words on a blank page that I will call my own.

Monday morning – Revision Goal met for last week

RWA

RWA

I don’t always need goals but I’m part of RWAC and we have a Yahoo Goals Loop that we post our goals to.  The posting makes us accountable for our actions.

 

I haven’t posted there in a while due to the personal losses I experienced last year along with the realization that I wanted to make writing and Beachbody my career choices.  So, as I move into that I made goals as part of Chalene’s Challenge Group and follow her 30 Day Challenge every day.

 

Last week’s goal with our Yahoo Goals Loop was to start revisions on my Nanowrimo project.  And I did that.  Which makes me feel great as I post this week’s goals to that loop today.

Nothing like ticking off a To Do List! Do you have one?

 

Dad’s Christmas.

It began with the fresh spruce or pine tree that Dad would cruise through several tree lots beforehand to suss out who had “straight” trees.

 

Right.  A straight tree.

 

Then, he’d haul me around to different ones and pull a few out.  He’d get me to back up to see how straight it looked then give it a shake.  If a lot of needles fell out he’d put it back saying it was too dry to bring home.

 

We’d find a tree.  He’d throw it in the back of his red F150 half ton truck and we’d head home.

 

He’d pull out the tree stand and put the tree in the breezeway between the garage with a special cocktail of water, bleach and corn syrup he got from the New York Times one year to keep the tree healthy.

Then, we’d prep the living room.

 

This involved setting town clear plastic tarp in the entryway and the designated spot for the tree.  This spot was close to the door to eliminate as many needle droppings as possible.  It wasn’t about light or positioning or outlets for the Christmas lights… it was about needles.  He hated them!  He hated cleaning them up.  Even if I cleaned it up he hated knowing they were there on the blue/green tile floor.  And both he and I would miss one or two.  So when the tree came down after the Old Christmas date he’d walk by the door to get to the kitchen and he’d eventually pick a few off of his white socked feet muttering about needles.

 

This tree ritual lives on in my memory every year.  With love.  Because I miss it.  Because it made me smile.  Everyone has traditions they like to do or keep… Dad’s eccentricities were mine to keep.

 

I took over decorating the tree after Mom left and ended up donating all her ornaments to the Salvation Army so I could start a new tradition with my Dad.  Instead of an angry decorating tree ritual where my Mom would re-decorate after you we created memories to make Christmas a happy, joyful, spiritual place in our lives.

 

I miss him.  And this Christmas I’m creating my own tradition now that, after five years of grieving, I can start another fresh chapter in my life.

 

Oh, Christmas tree… Oh, and my tree?  Bought it online – fake, set up by a pole and pre-decorated so it’s definitely straight.

Dad carving the turkey!

Dad carving the turkey!

 

Pat Woods

My Aunt, before she passed, was quite sick with breast cancer.  She had it, we suspect, for over a year.  She did not have a family doctor.  She did not tell anyone she was sick.

I was in the hospital room when the doctor asked her why she had not gotten help earlier.  Her answer was “carelessness.”

I’m not sure what that meant. I do know that now without her around I miss her a lot.  I re-engaged her when I was out there to visit in Alberta and called when I was back in Nova Scotia.

We weren’t given the chance to rally around her and show her any family support.  Perhaps that’s how she wanted it.

I know that her suffering is over.  This Christmas I will light a candle for her and my deceased father but I will not follow her example.  I have a family doctor who I see even if I get the sniffles.  And I know that if I’m given the opportunity to fight a terminal disease I will take it.

She was my Mom’s best friend and sister to her ten siblings.  As we struggle to come to grips with her passing I simply want to let everyone know that time will heal this.

I completed Nanowrimo and wrote a book in a month.  I will edit it in January and submit it to outside editors for their work.  And, if it ever gets published it will be dedicated to the Aunt Pat I knew as a child – a skier, a bird watcher, a worker, a friend and gardener.

An Unpublished Author’s Check List Re: Author Shawna Romkey’s post

As I read Author Shawna Romkey’s latest blog post (found here http://www.shawnaromkey.com) I thought – OMG!  I feel pressure from reading that.

 

The next thought I had was – I’m a *little* different as I’m unpublished.

 

1.  Write.  This is the most important one for an unpublished author IMHO.  Not only do you need to practice the craft of writing and take workshops offered through a writing group like Romance Writers of America (http://www.rwa.org) but you need to keep writing after the first manuscript is done.  Why?  So you’re writing can improve and so when you pitch an agent or editor you have a backup when they ask “What else are you working on?”  Also, markets change for books each year.  One manuscript may not sell but the other one might.

 

2.  Read.  My recommendations are:  (A) Read in your genre.   (B) Read books to help you write such as “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler.  Pick up books or workshops online/offline on grammar, beginnings, middles, ends, story, dialogue…Another great book is “Goal, Motivation and Conflict.”

 

3.  Listen.  Find at least one critique partner.  Someone you trust to read your book (not rewrite it) and give commentary on story and grammar.  Or, find an editor and pay them to read your work plus provide a copy edit or a story edit.   I use Angel Editing http://www.angelediting.com  but there are others.  Nancy Cassidy has The Red Pen Coach at http://www.theredpencoach.com  and I haven’t used her but it’s a great place to start as she’s also an author under the name Lilly Cain and a member of my writing group.  Be prepared to mentally argue every point but reliquinsh your hold on your novel as a pristine object.  It’s time to dig in and think about the changes they all suggest.  Grammar has to be done.  Story has to unfold.  Your work can only get better.

 

4.  Travel.  Or enter contests or check out Savvy Authors http://www.savvyauthors.com  I travel to conferences to pitch my work to people I won’t be able to see and to get around being in the slush pile.  However, I also recently just entered three contests to have my work judged by editors/agents/writers to see if there’s a new suggestion I can use and see how I do.  Check out this article written by an agent http://pubrants.blogspot.ca/2012/08/68-queries-in-60-minutes.html  and realize that while this process is daunting to you it is also daunting to the people in the industry but they tackle new submissions with what fits them.  Your work may not fit an agent or editor.  Have a cry and move on to submitting it to someone it might fit.  But keep submitting!

 

5.  Make your promo list now.  You have the time and energy.  Local media, online media, radio/tv/paper, reviewers, giveaways…  Start with your calendar and learn what the peak times are for your genre.  If you know where your book will enter the market start searching and making friends on Facebook/Twitter/Blogs.  You’ll need another author’s promo on your published work and it’s easier to do it if you’ve had a conversation with that author.  Plus, for my genre, there’s outfits like Author Buzz and Eye on Romance that have specific databases that let you in to a world you can’t get into yourself:  reaching The Reader.   Also, check out Goodreads if you haven’t already.

 

6.  Write some more.  Use Twitter’s #1K1HR for support as you slave over your computer hoping for the best possible outcome for your unpublished work.

 

7.  Let yourself refresh each day with something you enjoy.  This “writing thing” that your family labels for you is a long process.  I’ve heard authors at conferences speak about the length of time it took to find an agent or editor – some are 2 months and others are 3 years.  Do not give up but treat yourself to do something besides staring at the rejection letters.  You’ll need to re-energize once a day.  Listen to music with a candle or watch a movie.  Go for a walk.

  And sometimes you just need a little wine…

 

 

Disneyland, Laguna Beach and #RWA12

 

Over the past week I enjoyed a trip to Calgary, Alberta for my Grandmother Clem Woods’ memorial and then I was whisked away by WestJet to California.

 

Oh, California!  What a great time!

 

First off, I arrived a day early so that I had plenty of time to figure out the hotel and get situated before thousands of writers (published and unpublished) descended upon Anaheim, California for Romance Writers of America 2012 Conference.  I also visited the pool and beat away children from my seat.  How dare they try to have a good time in the world of Disneyland!  LOL.  That was my pool chair, dammit.

 

Next, I ran into writer Nikki McIntosh from my RWA chapter in Atlantic Canada randomly near the hotel Lobby.  We made plans for supper the next day – Cheesecake Factory baby!  And it was awesome.

 

Wednesday I caught the bus to Disneyland (could’ve walked) and ran around taking pics before the major crowds occurred plus bought some souvenirs.  Then, I splurged on a cab to visit Laguna Beach.  Y’know.  Where they filmed The Hills?!  I had the best lunch at BJs at Laguna Beach and did some major beach sitting as close to the Lifeguard station as I could.  He was a hottie.

 

Nikkie McIntosh and Donna Alward were up for awards.  Nikki for the Golden Heart and Donna for the Rita.  (See pics below).

 

Here are their Facebook pages for you to “like”

https://www.facebook.com/nikki.mcintosh.908

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donna-Alward-Romance-Author/114558931895535

 

 

I’m sad to say these two great writers did not win.  However, like I said to Nikki they were stars among thousands of entries and would always have the honour of being nominated plus bonding with their other award nominees.

 

I went to workshops, I pitched to two agents and two editors and I had the best time!  I also tweeted like crazy with the #RWA12 because there was so much going on I felt like I was double booked.  And I have to say, the line up for the Kensington signing didn’t warn me that by the time Nikki and I got there 20 mins after they opened that there would be no books.  We managed to grab advanced reading copies of Victoria Alexander’s new book which I had signed for my Aunts in Calgary, Alberta.  Victoria Alexander was so gracious!

 

If I go to the next one I’ll bring a Fed Ex box with me.  All those free books would’ve compromised my weight at the luggage scale at WestJet so I shipped quite a few back.

 

And, I managed to plop down Trindiebooks.com bookmarks in the Goodie room and was happy to see the pile reduced by the end of the day each day.

 

Had a blast.  Made new friends.  Secured books.  What more could you ask for? Oh, right… that publishing contract.  😉

 

Trindiebooks in the Goodie Room at RWA 12

Pitches waiting area for Agents and Editors

Line up for Kensington Authors SigningOther part of the Kensington Author line up

20 mins after Kensington Author Signing opened its doors

Nikki's Nomination

Donna's nomination

 

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter: From good to great!

 

I was skeptical when I heard about this film.  After all, you could say the most revered president’s image was being tarnished into a paranormal or horror punching bag.

 

Then I saw the film.   OMG.   It was soooo good!

 

What we know about this president tied in seamlessly with what we need to discover on how he took on a vampire nation fighting him for control of the entire USA at the time.  His personal losses fit in neatly with the vampire legend.

 

Also, these vampires do not sparkle.  They are horrific and scary as hell.  They are ruthless and physically strong.  How will he ever win?

 

With a little help from a history we can only imagine and the grace of the ideal nation he does win.  He wins the nation and ends slavery.  He doesn’t do this overnight and the film shows the passage of time, the rhetoric, the beliefs that he has plus the gruesome battle of Gettysburg.   http://www.gettysburg.com

 

Props to the cinematographer for not dropping my attention to the film – Caleb Deschanel.  http://www.fandango.com/calebdeschanel/overview/p87553