I joined WisRWA in January of 2014. I can honestly say, it was one of the smartest things I did on my bumpy, winding road to publication. Meeting fellow writers, industry professionals, and taking countless workshops on the romance genre all contributed to what successes I have had.
The most valuable of all that WisRWA has to offer is the Fab Five Contest. I’ve been a contestant twice (lost once, placed once), I’ve judged twice, and I’ve been a coordinator twice. This year, Natalie Alamo and I managed the contest and I couldn’t have teamed up with a better person. Each year, I grow as a writer because I participate in the Fab Five Contest.
Natalie and I have been working on ideas for changing and, ideally, improving the Fab Five Contest. The contest is not broken, but there are ways in which it could function better for the contestants and for the volunteers. The motivation for trying something new evolved from a combination of things: examining successful contests in other RWA chapters, judging issues related to diversity and training, as well as the acknowledgement that every once-in-a-while it’s time for a change. So, don’t be surprised if Fab Five get an overhaul next year.
My sincere thanks to the amazing and diligent category coordinators, the first-round judges, and the final judges. Congratulations to those who won and placed. You are one step closer to your goal. For those who did not place, I applaud you for putting yourself on the line and opening your heart to honest, well-meaning criticism. It’s scary and you are brave to have entered. I know you will benefit from the Fab Five Contest.
I’m honored to have participated for five years and plan to continue in whatever capacity I can. Fab Five is a satisfying endeavor because its purpose is to help unpublished authors achieve their dreams. What could be more rewarding?
by: Jennifer Rupp
Jennifer Trethewey is the pen name of Jennifer Rupp. She writes sexy, sweeping Highland romance combining on site research, wonderfully flawed characters, and a liberal dose of humor. Her first four historical romances from the Highlanders of Balforss series released by Entangled Publishing, have achieved critical and financial success. She has placed in numerous regional writing contests and is a member of Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Chicago North Romance Writers of America, Wisconsin Writers Association, Red Oak Studios, and Chicago Writers Association. She is also Co-Founder and former Co-Artistic Director of Milwaukee’s Renaissance Theaterworks.
Let me start out by stating the thought of going to a three-day conference, by myself, without really knowing anyone else scared me silly. I’m relatively new to WISRWA, having moved from the metro Detroit area four years ago. But…I’m so happy I stepped outside my comfort zone and decided to make the investment in my career and go!
For me as an author, this year has been spent focusing on developing my craft and marketing. I found the sessions at the Write Touch Conference gave me a huge boost toward my goals.
On Friday (the first official day of conference), after arriving at the beautiful Hyatt Hotel in Downtown Milwaukee, I stepped into my first session with Agent Courtney Miller-Callihan. She provided insight into the romance market from an agent perspective. My big take-away from her session—Walmart is a big influence in the romance market, as they are the largest retail purchaser of romance. My next session was with Kimberly Brower, another literary agent, who presented information on what makes a good ‘hook’.
After a quick walk to the Public Market to buy lunch, I attended Mel Jolly’s newsletter session. My author newsletter was pretty much non-existent until Mel’s session. I’ve already put into use a lot of the information and tips I learned.
The day ended with an interesting Q & A with a panel of guest agents, authors, and editors. Dinner was held in the Vue, providing a beautiful view of the skyline of downtown.
Saturday morning was spent learning about emotional wounds from Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Yes, we all feel bad emotionally wounding our beloved characters but those wounds make for interesting and layered stories. I own their book, The Emotional Thesaurus. Attending a session with them in person was so educational. I really learned a lot from their presentation.
After lunch, I had the opportunity to pitch to an agent and editor. Both requested more material. I’m still waiting on replies but whatever the outcome, I felt the opportunity to meet one-on-one with them was a great experience.
Once my heart rate slowed back to a normal rate after my pitch appointments, I sat in on Lisa Cron’s Anatomy of a Scene. I purchased her book, Story Genius, and am currently in the middle of using it to create a deep profile for the main character of my next book. I highly recommend Story Genius if you don’t already have it in your writing tool box.
I attended another wonderful dinner in the company for some great authors, along with representatives from Literary Services, and enjoyed the keynote speech given by Maya Rodale. After dinner and enjoyable conversation, I did what most other introverts/bookworms would do and returned to my hotel room, looked over the cute gift basket I won at the auction, opened a bottle of wine, and read for a few hours before going to bed.
On Sunday, I ate a quick breakfast, packed my suitcase, and headed home, my spirit renewed. For the following week, I felt the lingering buzz of excitement from spending time studying my craft and meeting fellow romance authors.
I can honestly say the experience was such a great value. The cost wasn’t cheap, and I really debated if spending the money was a wise investment.
My conclusion—yes, yes it absolutely was! I made great new friends and learned from some of the best in our industry. Thank you to all the people who worked hard to make The Write Touch Conference such an amazing experience!
by: Laurie Winter
Laurie Winter is the award winning author of The Warriors of the Heart series, set in Wisconsin and Texas. Inspired by her dreams, she creates authentic characters who overcome the odds and find true love.
When not lost in the imaginary world of her stories, she enjoys time with her family, who are scattered between Wisconsin and Michigan.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.
The Innocent Wife by Cici Cordelia
Saved Between the Sheets (Mutiny’s Rebellion) by Lina Jubilee