Be The Best Author You Can Be

Author Photo SW~ By Samanthya Wyatt I’ve seen several authors offer tips on Goal-Motivation-Conflict, Editing, Research, Interviewing Characters, and their journey to being published. Authors sharing information is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received. So today I’d like to share a few things I hope would be beneficial to any author who wants to be the best they can be. First of all, if you are not already a member of RWA, join! So much information is available. With the support of RWA behind you, you have a great chance of accomplishing your dream. RWA opens many doors for an author. From there you can join chapter groups, groups in one genre, critique groups, and other groups where members offer support. There is nothing like shared information between members and you make so many friends. Take as many workshops as you can. In today’s world, you need to be up to speed on what an editor wants and sharpen your skills so you can give it to them. Whether it’s GMC, POV, edits, plot, story building—you can never learn too much and you may be surprised at how much you will benefit. Classmates share ideas, ask questions maybe you never thought of. I even took a website design class and created my own website. www.samanthyawyatt.com  So sign up. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. Don’t be afraid to enter contests. It took years of putting words on paper, and having the courage to enter a contest. Don’t enter to win. Enter to learn. Feedback is important and you need to look at it as constructive and not insulting. You don’t have to like or agree with the judges, but you should learn from them. Turn criticism into drive. And most important—Don’t give up! Don’t expect success overnight. It is a long, hard process. If you are determined, keep trying. Judges’ comments made me more determined and work harder. In 2013 I was a finalist in the Golden Rose Contest. The Right One went on to be awarded Second Place. I did a pitch session with SAVVY Authors and one of the editors with Soul Mate Publishing asked for a full. Another editor asked for a full of my contemporary Something More. Every one of these things created the author I am today. I am a RWA member, I’ve joined four chapters via internet, and I’m a member of Savvy Authors. By keeping my spirit and turning criticism into drive, I am proud to join the list of published authors. Samanthya Wyatt loves a good romance story. She left her accounting career, married a military man traveling and raising her children in the United States and abroad, and now lives in the Shenandoah Valley. Her dream of being published came true with Soul Mate Publishing. She writes contemporary and historical romance, and is currently working on a sequel in the One and Only Series. She enjoys penning a story with strong characters, a bit of humor, and active scenes.

Conference Cherry Pop

kasey-photo~ By Kasey Lane When I offered to write a blog post following my first RWA conference I had no idea it would take so long for my brain to return to normal. To say the warnings of "overwhelming" were an understatement is like saying San Antonio is kind of warm and a little humid. Basically, by the end of the conference I felt like a babbling, overstimulated toddler after a candy binge. But I'll try my best to not embarrass myself. Having received advice from the more experienced conference attendees in my writer's group, I realized in the planning stages that there was no way I could do everything and be everywhere so I decided on some conference goals. Frankly, this turned out to be one of my better ideas. Goal 1: Craft Workshops As a new author, my primary focus was adding some tools to my vacuous toolbox. I tried to attend as many craft workshops that would help me build skills where I'm weakest.  Some of the highlights were Sarah MacLean's "Mastering the Art of Conflict," Susan Elizabeth Phillips' "Writing Great Characters," and Margie Lawson's "Diaglogue Cues." Amazing. Inspiring. Funny as hell. Several workshops I attended weren't craft-specific, but were extremely helpful and informative. I recommend you plan ahead, though. Have a preferred workshop and a backup in mind, in case of geographic issues (I really didn't want to walk across the street in heels one more time) or popularity (I'm not a fan of sitting on the floor). Goal 2: Network and Meet Online Friends For over 25 years I have planned, promoted, attended, and worked events and tradeshows. I have never been to one even remotely similar to RWA. Not even close, people. Romance writers are a unique and amazing breed apart. Generous and kind, business savvy and strikingly smart, bawdy and refined. It was fabulous to meet so many online friends, as well as new writer friends. Every workshop, panel and personal connection had immeasurable value - from my Sparkly Sherpas (Kerri Carpenter and Alethea Kontis) to my LA crew (Christine Ashworth, Danube Adele, and Sara Vance-Tompkins) to panels and events featuring multi-published authors. I feel so incredibly privileged to have found my people. Because I live in the boonies of Southern Oregon I don't have a local RWA chapter, which is the main reason I belong to Contemporary Romance Writers. I absolutely adored the panel and dessert bar our chapter hosted. I wish that I had summoned more courage and made an attempt to mingle more and meet other attendees, but by Thursday night I was a little shell shocked. My dorkiness aside, this is a do not miss event. Goal 3: Be a Sponge This first novel, first agent, first year of being a real writer will never happen again. While the whole hurry up and wait aspect of the publishing industry can be agonizing, it can also be a beautiful kind of delicious agony (come on, you've read Sylvia Day...you know what I'm talking about). At the age of 45, it's not very often that something is fresh and new. At first I found it disconcerting. Then a little terrifying. Then I just accepted it. The conference gave me a chance to be a starry eyed newbie and I loved it! The trip to San Antonio left me physically exhausted, as well as spiritually revived and inspired. Not only is the national conference an investment in our careers as romance writers, but it's also a validation in our chosen path, food for the writer's often doubting soul. If you have the opportunity to attend next year in New York I sincerely hope you'll let me know so we can meet in person. I would love to meet you. Kasey Lane writes erotic contemporary and new adult romance with musical themes, lots of heat, hot guys with ink, and always a Happily Ever After. A California native, she moved from Silicon Valley to the lush Pacific Northwest over a decade ago where she lives with her high school crush turned husband (and research partner), two wickedly smart but slightly devilish kids, a few dogs, some cats, and a bunch of chickens and ducks. Kasey is proudly represented by Cate Hart at Corvisiero Literary Agency.  To contact Kasey, email her at kasey@kaseylane.com, visit her website at www.kaseylane.com, visit her on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/kaseylanewrites, or tweet her at www.twitter.com/kaseylanewrites.

Our Chapter Members’ #RWA14 Panels!

Check out our chapter members' panels at this week's RWA Nationals Conference!

Thursday 7/24, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Juggling Two Careers: Strategies for Keeping All Your Balls in the Air (CAREER) Speakers: Jennifer Lohmann and Kelly Maher Two authors with day jobs as librarians share strategies for balancing two careers and multiple identities including career planning, increasing productivity, pen names, when or should two jobs intermingle, and what to do when they can’t be kept apart.  

Thursday 7/24, 11-12 p.m.

The Six Goals of Online Book Promotions (and the Tools to Achieve Them) (MARKETING) Speaker: Laura Kaye A best-selling author discusses a new perspective on online book promotion, offers concrete advice, and shares the approaches that allow authors to use social media more effectively.  

Thursday 7/24, 11-12 p.m.

Untie Your Tongue: How to Lead Successful Workshops and Author Events with Confidence (CAREER) Speakers: Asa Maria Bradley and Rebecca Zanetti Two authors pull on their vast experiences as college professors to show how to successfully plan and lead any workshop or author event. Learn how to make the event fun, for both the author and attendees, as well as how to enhance social media interactions with readers.  

Thursday 7/24, 3:15-4:15 p.m.

Brand Smart: Your Guide to Creating an Author Brand (MARKETING) Speaker: Kristin Wallace An author and 15-year veteran of the advertising industry will teach participants how to use marketing tools to develop an author brand, identify target readers, and develop a marketing plan to reach them.  

Thursday 7/24, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Paranormal Romances: Dead, Soft, or Rearing Up to Bite? (INDUSTRY) Speakers: Kate Douglas, Cynthia Eden, Justine Willis, and Rebecca Zanetti Join best-selling paranormal authors and a national account sales director for a frank discussion regarding the paranormal market. See what it takes to make your book stand out in a crowded market and how the different paranormal species are selling in different formats.  

Friday 7/25, 12:45-1:45 p.m.

The Hybrid Author: How to Stay Diversified (and Keep Up!) in Today’s Constantly Changing Market (CAREER) Speakers: Bella Andre, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Lauren Blakely, Laura Kaye, and Monica Murphy Best-selling authors who are published in a variety of formats/publishing models discuss and answer questions on the many options available to writers in today’s changing publishing market.  

Friday 7/25, 2-3 p.m.

A Global Affair (CAREER) Speakers: Donna Alward, Sun Chara, Jennifer Hayward, and Lynn Marie Hulsman Discover how to take charge of your product and launch your book onto the world marketplace and build name recognition, readership, and sales.  

Friday 7/25, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

A Tale of Four Houses: Lessons Learned on Divergent Paths to Success (CAREER) Speakers: Alyssa Alexander, Tracy Brogan, Kimberly Kincaid, and Jennifer McQuiston Join best-selling and award-winning authors for a discussion on the trials and tribulations of getting that book contract and what to expect during the first year of publication. Learn how four authors, each at a different publishing house, carved their own path and benefitted from each others’ experiences and knowledge.  

Saturday 7/26, 11-12 p.m.

Managing the Modern Romance Career (CAREER) Speakers: Jennifer L. Armentrout and Laura Kaye Two New York Times best-selling authors reveal how they manage their careers and protect their interests when working with multiple publishers, writing in more than one romantic subgenre, and publishing the frequent releases that readers expect.  

Saturday 7/26, 12:45-1:45 p.m.

Bifocals, Air Conditioning and Depends®: The Challenges and Benefits of Being a “Mature” Author (WRITER'S LIFE) Speaker: Nancy Fraser Explore the challenges and benefits of being a mature author in the sometimes youth-oriented world of romance publishing, including recognizing the pluses maturity brings to your work and the marketplace.  

Saturday 7/26, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Cooperative Marketing: Get More Bang for Your Buck with Less Work (MARKETING) Speakers: Robin Covington, Avery Flynn, and Kimberly Kincaid A panel of authors discusses how they work together to reach beyond their individual readerships, broaden their audience through social media, and get more for their advertising dollar.   Happy conference! And let us know what you learn!  

Tales from a Newbie Writer

kasey-photo~ By Kasey Lane Although I've been a writer my entire life, I didn't start writing romance until just over a year ago at the age of 44. For years, I was a reader, a fan, of erotica and steamier romance. The high quality of writing and storytelling in all subgenres of romance is truly inspiring. Occasionally, though, I would buy something that left me feeling like I could have written it better. After one too many bouts of buyer's remorse I decided to try my hand at writing a book. Turns out that writing a novel is hard. Really hard. I know many authors are just plain gifted and natural word smiths. I'm not one of those authors. My first couple attempts at storytelling were embarrassingly pathetic. Without any real  concept of plot, character arc, GMC, or POV, I had no clear foundation to build on. So instead of curling up into a fetal ball and giving up, I chose to research how to become a good writer. I won't pretend I'm there yet. I'm not, but I'm on the path. And while I'm not yet published, I have had some interest in my manuscript. I was lucky enough to sign with an agent last month (Cate Hart with Corvisiero Literary Agency) who is helping me improve my craft. Of all the books I've read, workshops I've taken, and people I've met on this adventure, the most important thing I've learned is to appreciate the journey itself. I will never have this first book, first contract, first conference again. That being said, I've also learned a few other things I'd like to share with new authors. 1. Write. This may seem obvious, but it needs to be said over and over again. Writers write. Talking about writing is not writing. Tweeting about writing is not writing. Reading about writing is not writing. In order to write a book, you must, uh, write a book! 2. Learn. You may be the most fabulous writer with a natural gift for description and dialogue, but we should always be growing and challenging ourselves in our craft. There are a ton of books available and obpportunities abound  for continued education with RWA chapters, online workshops, local writer's groups. I  personally recommend Margie Lawson, Savvy Authors, RWA chapter workshops, BVS, and Jami Gold. 3. Network (online and off). It's not just about the contacts. It's about not creating in a vacuum and making friends with similar interests. Networking allows you to meet other writers for support, commiseration, and experience. I thought I was alone in my pursuit. Guess what! I'm not. Not only do I have great online writer friends, but I've met some published romance authors in my area. Recommended resources: Savvy Authors, Facebook, Twitter, and RWA chapters. 4. Critique partner and/or support groups. Get one. Or two. Or however many you need. I have two critique partners and a number of supportive "friends" that I've met through workshops. I met one of my critique partners at Savvy Authors during their Entangled Smackdown event and the other one through RWA. Sharing my work the first few times was extremely difficult, brutal even. It's deeply personal, but it's meant to be shared and read by others. And then polish the hell out of that manuscript. Use rejection and criticism to make you a better writer. Don't let your fear or indecision paralyze you. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. 5. Contests, pitch events, conferences, NaNoWriMo. Enter contests and pitch events. The feedback and opportunities are invaluable. Again, the best resource for contests is RWA. Also, Savvy Authors hosts Entangled Smackdown and a pitch event that should not be missed. Hone your craft and get the opportunity to go to the top of the slush pile. This chapter has also hosted two pitch events in just the last few months. And do NaNoWriMo. I did. That's what forced me to stop talking about being a writer and actually write my first book. I also recommend attending conferences when you can. I haven't had the opportunity yet, but I'm scheduled to attend three this year: RWA National Convention, Willamette Writer's Conference, and the Emerald City Writer's Conference. 6. Read. Reading your favorite authors is a great way to learn by example, as well as to refresh and research. It also reminds you why you wanted to write in the first place. Most of all, enjoy the ride. Savor the heck out of every experience and be proud of this new adventure you've embarked on. Kasey Lane writes erotic contemporary romance with musical themes, hints of kink, hot guys with ink, and always a Happily Ever After. During the day she's the co-founder and Director of Marketing at a growing manufacturing company. After years in the business world, Kasey decided to pursue her dream of becoming a romance author and started writing the types of stories she loves to read — spicy, romantic and edgy. Kasey, a California native, moved from Silicon Valley to the lush Pacific Northwest over a decade ago where she lives with her high school crush turned husband (and research partner), two wickedly smart but slightly devilish kids, a few dogs, some cats, and a bunch of chickens. To contact Kasey, email her at kasey@kaseylane.com, visit her website at www.kaseylane.com, or tweet her up at www.twitter.com/kaseylanewrites.

The Pros of Being a PRO

MelanieGreene~ By Melanie Cremins My journey to today started back in 5th grade…. Well. It’s a long story, and probably a familiar one to many of us (great teacher, ambitions, writing classes, life, determination, etc.) Point is, a couple of years ago I realized that Romance Writing + Melanie = HEA, so I joined RWA and my local chapter, found critique partners, revised my book, began querying and revising and entering contests and writing and writing and writing. The usual. But it wasn’t until I was on my way to Nationals in Atlanta last summer that I realized I was a PRO. Well, that I qualified for PRO. First, I had to figure out what that meant. I’d never spent much time on RWA’s site, feeling more than adequately bombarded with information just from my local chapter meetings, local conferences, and the demands of writing. But I used the RWA forums to find a roommate for Atlanta, and as she and I emailed about the conference, she mentioned the PRO retreat. So I asked, “What’s PRO, anyway?” I’d heard the terms PRO and PAN bandied about, but never figured out what they meant. So, in case you, too, don’t know: PRO means you are actively pursuing your career as a romance writer. It means you’ve finished a book (or more) you consider good enough to publish, and have taken steps towards publication. You’ve queried agents or publishers, or maybe you’ve self-published. (More on that in a minute.) You aren’t rolling in cash from your writing (yet!) but you aren’t dilly-dallying. You’re serious about your writing. (And three cheers for you! It’s quite a leap, letting your words out into the world.) Registering myself as a PRO was easy. Well, first I had to find a blank CD, but we’ll leave the deplorable state of my office out of this. I had a novel-length manuscript, I had email exchanges with agents, I had the PRO application (http://www.rwa.org/p/do/sd/sid=1624&type=0). I sent it all in, and a week or so later, had my PRO pin. The RWA site doesn’t mention self-publishing in the PRO definition. There’s no way to technically qualify for PRO with just your self-published novel. Here’s what I advise: query an agent or publisher about your indie book, get a response (an acknowledgement from an online submission portal counts), and use that to qualify for PRO. You’ll still have to find a blank CD to burn your novel to, but it’s worth it. There are several pros to being a PRO. (And I’m not even counting all the puns my husband gets to make about being married to a PRO.) There’s the earlier access to editor and agent sign-ups at Nationals. There’s a nifty pin. There’s the fact that it acts as a signifier of your dedication to industry professionals. Above all, to me, there’s the PRO community. I’m still wary of bombardment, but I have the daily digest of the PRO-ORG Forum emailed to me, and whenever I have a random career-type question float through my head, I can go there to find that someone’s already answered it. Or if they haven’t, I have but to ask. It’s terribly convenient, this one-stop shop for info about various publishers, about self-publishing and promotion, about contests and queries and conferences. And there’s a great fly-on-the-wall aspect, seeing people in a similar stage of their career (or perhaps the stage you’re hoping to achieve, any minute now), sharing their triumphs and their setbacks. Of course chapters like RWA-CR offer a great deal of support and community, but I still find it comforting (and less intimidating) to play with people who are on a relatively level field. Knowing they’re out there inspires me. One of the reasons I started PROlific Thursday was to bring that same sense of camaraderie and motivation to RWA-CR; I hope to publish my own news some Thursday, but meanwhile I want to encourage more of our members to go PRO. After all, we’re writers, and are therefore bound to encounter obstacles – rejections and critiques and reviews that aren’t what they could be. Trouble finding time and mustering perseverance. Recalcitrant characters. But having the support and encouragement of fellow writers helps the blows land more softly. Knock me down, but I’m a PRO now, and that means I’ll be getting up again, ready to keep fighting the good fight. Melanie Cremins writes sizzling contemporary single titles as Melanie Greene (http://melaniegreene.com / https://www.facebook.com/MelGreeneBooks) and tweets @dakimel. She’s RWA-CR’s PRO Liaison & newsletter editor, and lives in Texas with her husband and kids and probably too many large dogs, considering she’s a cat person. She also reads far too much, and writes about books at http://dakimel.blogspot.com.

The Romantic Times (RT) Conference, 2012

~ By Angela Kay Austin At what age did you decide (realize) you were meant to write?  It’s always been a part of me in one way or another.  When I finally made the decision to jump off that bridge and submit, I think I didn’t sleep for weeks waiting for responses.  When the rejections came, I just knew they were wrong…how could they not see my genius J It took years, but finally, I did receive that wonderful wonderful yes! Now, feeling like a “legit” author, I thought it’s logical attend a conference.  Participate and sign.  Attend lectures.  It’ll be no big deal.  Right? What on earth was I thinking? I freaking lost my mind at RomanticTimes!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I think I lost weight…no time for eating or sleeping will do that to you. I don’t know about past events: ratio of cover models to guests, aspiring writers vs. readers, etc.  But, what I do know is that I was able to walk up to people whose books I’ve read for years, and say hi.  Take pictures, and ask questions.  Nalini Singh will never know how amazing I felt when she walked into a Harlequin party and strolled over to me to say hi.  AMAZING! Every lecture I attended made something explode in my brain.  I thought I was the only one to think or feel a certain way about something, but here I was surrounded by others who thought and felt the same way.  They battled the same problems. I can’t wait for next year! [caption id="attachment_2965" align="aligncenter" width="228" caption="Jeanine Frost and me! Love me some Cat and Bones."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_2966" align="aligncenter" width="325" caption="ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Brenda Jackson, and Kimberly Kaye Terry! Brenda Jackson was one of the first romance authors that inspired me to write. I wanted to do what she did!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_2967" align="aligncenter" width="296" caption="Charlaine Harris’ accent was so adorable. Loved meeting her and sitting in on her panel."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_2968" align="aligncenter" width="319" caption="Anne Rice! That’s all…Anne Rice!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_2969" align="aligncenter" width="293" caption="Nalini Singh was incredibly friendly and personable! Loved meeting her."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_2970" align="aligncenter" width="313" caption="Meeting these ladies was such a pleasure. They were so willing to share information about how they do what they do. Secrets of research and weaving it into your writing."][/caption]

 I had an absolutely amazing time!  I hope that I’ll get to run into a few of you guys next year.  See you in Kansas City!

After twenty years of practicing marketing: writing copy, designing layouts, developing advertising campaigns, Angela realized each piece of the plans she put together eventually told a story. And, since she was a tween reading her mother’s Reader’s Digest, and every teen magazine she could find she’d dreamt of telling stories. Her first book, Love’s Chance stayed on Red Rose Publishing’s Best Seller list for 10 weeks.  Her second release, My Son, is available from Red Rose Publishing.  And was a best seller at All Romance Ebooks.  New releases:  Sweet Victory and Scarlet’s Tears are available from Vanilla Heart Publishing. Angela has written for the Ezine Rithm ‘n Blues.

This Week In Chick Lit

~ By Melina Kantor Hi Everyone, In honor RWA Nationals in NYC, which start next week, I thought it would be fun to collect sites with conference posts at tips. I'll start the list, and I hope you'll leave a comment and add to it! Here we go: Also, just for fun, here's a nice and inspiring story from the New York Times. (Thanks Chris Bailey!) Have a great weekend, everybody! :-) Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. By day, she is an elementary school computer teacher. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.