Fun, Fun, Fun at RWA

Sexy book covers plastered on the elevator doors.  Eager young writers sitting at the feet of seasoned pros soaking up years of hard-earned writing wisdom.  Hopeful authors pitching their ideas to the agents and editors.  Experienced authors listening to marketing specialists giving advice on maximizing sales.  Workshops on everything from writing murder to steamy sex. Superstars giving keynote addresses telling their own stories of success.  A five-hundred author autograph party.  All in all, over ten thousand authors, agents, editors and industry pros gathered together to teach, learn, network, and share.  So where was I and what was I doing there?  How about attending the Romance Writers of America convention, held right here in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas from July 23 to July 26.  And having a heck of a good time.

Things were already heating up when I went downtown a day early to pick up my registration materials so as not to get caught in the crowded registration lines on Wednesday.  Armed with a hefty registration packet and three new paperbacks (free books were thick on the ground all week) I returned the next afternoon, dressed up and ready to participate in the huge autograph party, an important charity fundraiser for RWA.  I caught up with the Boroughs publisher, Michelle Klayman, who had CD’s of ‘Solomon’s Choice’ for me to sign.  I met fans and signed CD’s and went home to go over the list of workshops offered Thursday through Saturday.

Thursday and Friday were a blur of activity as I went from workshop to workshop, attending everything from how to write a blog (I think I already knew this) to how to market my work (Twitter? Who would have guessed?) to how to write about police work (A writer and her policeman husband gave this one and it was good).  On Friday night the Boroughs editors and publisher held an open house and then entertained the participating Boroughs authors with dinner at one of San Antonio’s best Mexican food restaurants.  I slowed the pace down some Saturday morning with coffee and some delightful conversation with my Boroughs editor Jill Limber-even though she and I have worked together almost two years this was our first face to face meeting.  I also enjoyed meeting Boroughs editor Chris Keeslar and my fellow Boroughs authors.  The culmination of the weekend was the Rita Awards Ceremony, where the best of the best are honored for their outstanding work.  I left exhausted that night, but full of encouragement and ideas for new projects in the future.

RWA, and the convention it hosts, has grown considerably since the early convention I attended in 1984.  But the spirit of encouragement, sharing, and warmth is the same.  Did I have fun?  Absolutely.  Did I learn a lot?  You bet.  Do I want to go to the next one?  You better believe it!

Round-robin writer’s blog

Many thanks to Paula Millhouse (www.paulamillhouse.com) and Charles Millhouse (http://www.charlesmillhouse.com) for inviting me to follow them on this writer’s blog. Please check out their websites for info on some really good reads!
This particular blog has asked me to answer four questions about my work-a couple of easy ones and a couple I had to think about. The first question is ‘What am I working on right now?” That answer is easy-I am in the middle of an extensive rewrite of the second book in my Heaven’s Point trilogy, tentatively titled ‘Daughter of Valor’ telling the story of widower Jimmy Adamcik and wounded war veteran Holly Riley. Jimmy was a major supporting character in ‘Solomon’s Choice’ and we also briefly met Holly. When I finish that rewrite I will return to work on the third book of the trilogy tentatively titled ‘The Soap Maker’, Angie Baxter’s story.
Second question-How does my work differ from others of its genre? Hmmmm……Okay. No paranormal creatures of any kind (I love this genre, just can’t write it). No gratuitous billionaires; heros and heroines are normal people with normal finances for their station in life. I try to portray the characters’ professional lives accurately and interview people in a given profession before writing about it. And even though my main goal is an entertaining read I like for each book to have a theme-‘Solomon’s Choice’ dealt with choices and consequences, ‘Daughter of Valor’ is meant to be a Valentine to all of our wounded warriors and ‘The Soap Maker’ deals with children that ‘aren’t your own’.
Third question-Why do I write what I do? Easy! I write a book that I would want to read myself! I love romance novels and write the kind of book that I like to read.
Fourth question-How does my writing process work? I can’t force a book out of nothing-the kernel of a story has to be in my head already or it’s a no-go. Once that kernel’s there, I do any of the necessary research and then sit down with a tablet with however many chapters labeled, one chapter per page. I formulate an overall plot and indicate in which chapters the major plot points occur, then go in (in pencil, of course) and fill in each chapter with what else is going to happen. I type that up, look it over and make changes, and sit down with the detailed plot outline in front of me and start actually writing the book. Once the rough draft is done, I cut, edit, polish, and get the manuscript ready for first my agent and then my editor to see. If either of them sees things to fix, I fix them!
Next week’s author!!!!! I am delighted to introduce to you Goldie Alexander, a brand-new author with Boroughs whose new paranormal romance ‘Penelope’s Ghost’ will be live soon. Goldie has written a number of children’s books and “Penelope’s Ghost’ is her first foray into adult fiction. You can check out Goldie’s website at www.goldiealexander.com and I look forward to hearing from Goldie next week.

Looking forward to the New Year

2013 was a wonderful year!  After much work and effort, ‘Solomon’s Choice’ went ‘live’ on Oct. 8 and has garnered a number of favorable reviews and has two sequels in the works.  We did a fair amount of traveling-Hawaii in February to see our son and daughter in law and trips to Tennessee in March and August to see our other son and his family.  On Sept. 2 a new grandson arrived in Honolulu and of course we had to go back  to Hawaii and meet him!  Our other two grandsons in Tennessee are thriving, mixing the occasional acting or modeling jobs or dancing performance with the busy lives of a second grader and kindergardener.  I learned to play the ukulele and got better on the mountain dulcimer.  Our adult children are doing well and we had much to be happy about, and a part of me hates to see a year like that go!

But at the same time I am very much looking forward to 2014.  I have places I want to go, starting with a short trip to Florida on January 2.  I have things I want to do, starting with learning to play the hammered dulcimer now sitting in my living room.  I have stories in the works that need to be finished and more stories in my head that are crying out to be written.  I have blogs I want to write and readers I want to meet, all of which requires a new year in which to do them!  So come on, 2014-I am so ready for you!

Using life experiences to write storie

Last Friday night my dulcimer band and I were sitting outside in the freezing cold playing for a Main Street Christmas festival in Boerne, Texas.  As we coped with howling wind, numb fingers, and instruments out of tune because of the cold, a part of me was joyfully making music, a bigger part of me was thinking we were every kind of fool for playing outside in sub-freezing weather, and a small part of me was wondering how to incorporate this life experience into a book someday-how to use this fun-but-miserable evening in the telling of a story.

I do that a lot.  It doesn’t seem to matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m constantly wondering, at least on a subconscious level, ‘Would this be good in a story?” I guess it’s the lot of a writer to view life through a story-telling lens, because in my experience the best stories do come from life.  We writers are notoriously frequent travelers, because it’s hard to write about a place we have never seen.  We are also apt to jump in and try things we might like to write about.  (For the book I am currently writing, I went into a soap maker’s kitchen and learned to make soap-not something I would have done ever done otherwise.)  And we are not shy about talking, talking, talking to anyone and everyone around us, because we never know who or what will spark that next wonderful idea for a story.

Finally online!

Welcome, friends and readers.  ‘Solomon’s Choice’ is finally ‘live’ and my new website is up and running!  It is so good to have another book on the market after so many years.  My thanks to my agent Tina Tsallas and the wonderful team at Boroughs Publishing (Jill Limber and Chris Kesslar in particular) for all their hard work in making this come to pass.  Please write-I love to hear from my readers.  Will be posting another message soon!