~ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her website at www.kaseylane.com, or tweet her up at www.twitter.com/kaseylanewrites.