March, 2018

Social Media for Writers

On Saturday, February 10th, Karissa Zastrow spoke to the Chippewa Falls area group about using social media to promote their careers. The event was well attended by the area group as well as the public. It was held in the community room at Volume One in Eau Claire, a wonderful local book store that also sells a variety of products from the area.

Karissa’s emphasis was on quality over quantity. Pick two or three that best suit your writing and do them well. With this in mind, she concentrated her presentation on perhaps the three most popular social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She started with a basic overview on how to use each site and then offered tips on how to be professional; tips that apply themselves to all responsible social media use.

Schedule your posts: This can mean using one of the applications that allows you to compose your post in advance and then schedule when and where you’d like it to appear; but she warned these aren’t always reliable, so be careful. You might also use a personal assistant to post for you, just don’t forget to

also post for yourself. Your followers want to hear from you! She suggested you calendar a day and time when you routinely post for each site so you neither neglect nor overwhelm your followers. Be consistent, but flexible.

Think before you post! Just as it’s wise that we think before we speak, we should think before we post. How does it read? Not how do you want it to read, but how does it actually read. Without facial clues and voice inflection a post, like an email or text, can be construed completely different than intended. And, unless you’re writing is political in

nature and you’re looking to be provocative, it’s probably best that you not let yourself be caught up in a sparring match during these divisive times. The same goes for photos or memes or reposts. Followers are drawn to graphics. Use them! They may enjoy pictures of a beautiful sunset from your Cabo vacation, but it’s not a good idea to include the photo of you and your friends doing drunken karaoke. If the post or photo is something you’d warn your teenager not to post because a future employer might see it, the rule goes for you, too.

Think of the editor or agent perusing your media presence as a potential future employer.

Book promotion: A good rule to follow is one promotion for every five posts. This goes the same for cross-promotion. Promotion, for yourself or someone else, is important, but if you come across as someone only interested in getting people to buy, buy, buy, they will stop following you. Your followers want to feel like they know you as a person. Tell them about an interesting hobby, your pet, a favorite author or quote. Everyone loves a funny story. Tell them what you’re reading now. Recommend a new restaurant or share a fabulous recipe your hubby or kids just couldn’t get enough of last night. Be human, not a sales bot. But by all means, when you have a release date get it out there! Just don’t hit them over the head with it.

What I found most interesting, and intend to participate in, is a Twitter pitch party called #PitMad. It’s a great way to get your pitch out in front of multiple editors and agents.

Jane YunkerNew to romance writing, Jane Yunker has been a WisRWA member since 2015 and the Chippewa Falls area contact since 2016. She is a blogger, published poet, and published short fiction writer. She recently completed her first full-length romance novel, “Mary Bishop,” which finaled in the 2016 Fab Five Contest historical category, and has started work on her second. She grew up in Wisconsin but spent almost thirty years living in Rochester, New York, before returning to Wisconsin in 2011. She currently lives in St Croix Falls with her husband.

Jane is also a member of the Wisconsin Writers Association (WWA), the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFOP), The Northern Lakes Writers Guild, and the St Croix Falls Historical Society archival committee.

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New Release Tuesday – March 2018

NewReleaseTuesday2

Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.

Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.

 

The Shopkeeper's Secret by Nancy Sweetland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shopkeeper’s Secret by Nancy Sweetland

 

To Discover a Divine by Tessa McFionn book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Discover a Divine (Rise of the Stria Book One), by Tessa McFionn

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The Importance of Setting

We all know there are many important elements that make up a good story. Characterization, plot, and dialogue come immediately to mind. But in doing some research, I’ve discovered I haven’t done enough thinking about Setting.

And it’s so important.

Image looking in at two people in a subway car“Setting is a conscious choice the writer makes during the pre-writing phase,” says John Galligan (author of Tools for Fiction Writers) in an article for the Mystery Writers of America newsletter. “[S]etting feeds and supports your fiction, sometimes in subtle, not evident ways.” He goes on to say that “many of the essentials of setting will show up in your first draft but many more will need to be crafted or refined during revision.”

So, what can we do to improve and use the power of Setting to enhance our work?

Galligan suggests breaking it out into its dimensions:

Place: The most obvious is, of course, where. But there’s more to that; think the whole spectrum of “big” (A city? State? Mythical world?) down to the “microscopic” (a brilliant detail). That’s what we reach for when we revise.

Time: Now we go into the “Scale of When.” Time in history? Time of year? Of life? and of course, Time of story.  We need to seek for those details, lines of dialogue, that clarify the scale of when, that ground the reader in our story.

Mood/Theme: This moves us into a more subliminal mindset. Think big picture (a disaster, maybe a tsunami). Then consider the emotions it causes: despair, loss, horror—a whole spectrum of emotions, evidenced by . . .

Woman sitting on the edge of a boat with flower garlandCharacter: Setting shapes characters in terms of who they are in the beginning of your story and who (in the storyline) they will become. It determines how they walk, talk, eat, think, react—in short, everything. And let’s not forget . . .

Pace: How your story moves from one setting to another. Perhaps your character finds herself uncomfortable—raising the tension—as you skip from one scene to another? Galligan says, “Think of a story as a finite arrangement of settings” that link dramatic actions. “Spending too much time in one and not enough in another creates imbalance and a pacing problem.”

Galligan again: “It all comes down to details and choices. We can’t describe everything.”

I’m paraphrasing here: He advocates striving for consistency, richness and economy, working across details that cross boundaries within Setting, such as describing late summer with “silver maples humming with cicadas.” This not only gives the reader a mental image but at the same time conveys information about place (where) and Mood/Theme.

Whew! Who’d have thought there was so much to consider within the broad word: Setting. I, for one, will go back into the manuscript I’m working on to see how much better it can be with just a few more (or less! Sometimes I’m wordy) detail. I want my story to give my readers so much more than just a place where something happens. I want to give them the depth and height and width that Setting can provide.

Nancy Sweetland has authored seven picture books and a chapter book mystery for young readers, along with short stories for juveniles and adults. Adult novels include The Spa Murders, The Virgin Murders, The Door to Love, WannabeThe House on the Dunes, The Countess of Denwick, and The Shopkeeper’s Secret. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin and loves to hear from readers.

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Oh, Pioneers!

Photograph of Eleanor Hibbert

Eleanor Hibbert

For three years, I had the privilege of working at the public library in the small mid-coast town of Rockland, Maine. I won’t say exactly how long ago it was, but I was young and the classic oak card catalogue and a date stamp machine were not. Over the years, I met many dozens of women who read books by authors on a long list of pioneers; writers who paved the way for all of us in the broad romance genre. My coworkers and I created waiting lists for these authors’ new releases, and in some cases we bought more than one copy, a big deal for an underfunded small town library.

Remember Eleanor Hibbert? Me, neither. But I do remember Victoria Holt, a pioneer in gothic and suspense romance (The Shivering Sands, India Fan); Philippa Carr, author of historical romances (Daughters of England, a 20-book series); and Jean Plaidy, who also wrote historicals. These books were perpetually checked out or on reserve, and some of the shut-in readers would ask me to pick out anything by Holt, Carr, or Plaidy. Another British author, Catherine Cookson (The Lady on my Left, The Bonny Dawn) wrote over 100 books. I recall dragging out glue and tape in our “book ER” as we tried to hold her books together just a little longer. (Cookson suffered a genetic bleeding disorder and other illnesses, which caused great hardship in her life, recounted in a memoir found after her death, Before I Go.)

We also had long waiting lists for books by a Mainer, Elizabeth Ogilvie (The Tide Trilogy), who wrote 40 books for adults and young readers. She lived On Gay’s Island and rarely came to the mainland, but when she agreed to give a talk at the library, her fans showed up in droves. No one could draw a crowd like Ogilvie.

Who can forget Phyllis Whitney (Spindrift, Amethyst Dreams)? In her104 years she wrote 70 books for adults and young people. She was labeled the Queen of American Gothic, but she described her work as “romantic novels of suspense.” Now a subgenre all its own. Born in Japan to American parents, this trailblazer had a penchant for exotic locations. She also wrote A Guide to Writing Fiction—I read this long ago and loved it.

In the 1990s, when I lived in Asheville, North Carolina, I was driving to a speakers’ conference in Florida, but ended up seeing a highway exit sign for St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Hmm…it sounded vaguely familiar. Curious, I went to have a look and soon realized I was visiting the adopted home of the wildly popular author, Eugenia Price (St. Simon’s Trilogy), and many other books based on historical figures in the region. I ended up visiting the lovely churchyard where she’s buried, now a regular stop for tourists-fans. In a case of serendipity, that day I learned about an annual writers’ conference held on St. Simon’s Island and attended every year thereafter until I moved to Wisconsin in 2001. I later set Island Healing on a fictional version of that island.

When these pioneers began writing, they faced real barriers for women trying to break into the fiction market (let alone garner any respect). Somehow, they took what was a narrow path to success and independence and bulldozed it to make room for all of us. Today, romance, in all its variations, remains the top-selling fiction genre. So, thanks Victoria/Jean/Philippa, Catherine, Elizabeth, Phyllis, and Eugenia…and so many others!

An active member of WisRWA since 2001, Virginia McCullough lives in Green Bay and writes romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line and award-winning women’s fiction. LOVE, UNEXPECTED, Book 3 of HER Two Moon Bay series, is due out in May. Virginia also writes and edits nonfiction and is a writing coach. Please note: this blog post has been adapted from a post on Heartwarming authors blog, 10-2017.)

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Promotion Thursday – March 2018

Promotion Thursday - October EditionIt’s Promotion Thursday for March. Check out where you can find our WisRWA authors this month.

 

Barbara M. Britton will be at The Columbus Books & Beer Book Club at the Black Kettle Pub in Columbus, WI on March 22nd at 7 p.m.

Lois Greiman will be presenting the workshop Beyond the Honeymoon with Michele Hauf at the Rosemount Writers Festival on March 24th. They will also be accepting manuscripts for critique.

Cheryl Yeko will be on Tina Blog Talk Radio on the March 13, 2018 at 3:00 PM EDT. She will also be teaching the course Your Novel’s Blue Print at SavvyAuthors from March 12-23.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Barbara Raffin

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our final author: Barbara Raffin.

Headshot of Barbara RaffinBarbara grew up a country girl on the Michigan-Wisconsin border, but loves to visit the big city and live the hurried pace now and then. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she’s created stories and adventures in one form or another for as long as she can remember. Whether a romantic romp or gothic-flavored paranormal, her books have one common denominator: characters who are wounded, passionate, and searching for love. Her books will make you laugh and cry.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

BARBARA: I wrote my first book at the age 12 — a zillion years ago. I didn’t write seriously until I was in my 30s.

It hasn’t been an easy journey to publication. I have a hard time fitting into a category. I published first in e-publishing, seeing it as the future in books, I’ve been contracted by a few small presses and am currently trying out the indie market.

Book Cover for The Visitor by Barbara RaffinWISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

BARBARA: The importance of dialogue clicked with me when I read Elizabeth Lowell’s Only Love. Prior to that, my characters talked mostly inside their heads. It was a true light bulb moment.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

BARBARA: Trust your instincts.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

BARBARA: The fifth and final book in my St. John Siblings series will be out later in 2018.

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Barbara, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant from all the entries. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Sara Dahmen

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our eighth author: Sara Dahmen.

Headshot of Sara DahmenSara lives in Port Washington, Wisconsin. She is a cookware manufacturer and metalsmith apprentice. Sara’s non-fiction book on the history and science of cookware is due out at the end of 2018, and she loves to pretend it’s 1820 and camp at outdoor rendezvous in the summer. When she’s not writing, she’s working on her House Copper cookware line, or spending time with her husband and three young children.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

SARA: My writing journey started long long ago as a child, and I’ve written stories all my life – throughout middle school, high school, and beyond. But as a professional writer, my career started in 2014 when I started self-publishing. It was self-pubbing all the way until my first novel was picked up by a publisher, re-worked, re-edited, and released as a debut and the first in a series of six books on Feb 14.

WISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

Book Cover for Widow 1881 by Sara DahmenSARA: Honestly, the thing I’ve learned the most is that our writing styles evolve as our lives, experiences, and knowledge grows and changes. Plus, having a team of editors really makes a difference. They’ll push you way out of your comfort zone, which forces you to truly figure out who you are as a writer and what your voice is…but also gives you an opportunity to look at your work and step out, leaving you a chance to create something even more amazing, if you keep an open mind.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

SARA: I’d say…keep writing. It’s a little cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true (and said so often because it IS true!). You will only get better with practice, and going over and over your words. Even reading your manuscript backwards and working on your editing and picking out words. Just keep at it. You’ll end up polishing it perfectly in the end.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

SARA: Widow 1881, the first in the Flats Junction series, just came out on Feb 14, 2018. I’m so excited because it’s filled with dozens of illustrations, maps, telegrams etc, so it’s a visually pretty book. But the next book, Smith 1865, is supposed to come out at the end of 2018 as well. Which I’m excited about because no one has really written about a female tin and coppersmith. 😊

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Sara, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant from all the entries. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

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