WisRWA Calendar

May 19
2017
2017 WisRWA Conference
May 19 - 21, 2017
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Featuring best-selling authors Christie Craig, Virginia Kantra, and Sarah MacLean.

Register now under the Conference tab!

Meeting Times

Apr 05
2017
Green Bay
11:30-3:00 - 1951 West Restaurant,1951 Bond St, Green Bay

PERSONAL BRANDING: We all know about product branding - Nike's “Just Do It,” for example - but have you heard about personal branding? Gini Athey will present a Five-Point Personal Branding program and suggest ways to connect it to our writing and promotion of our books.
Apr 15
2017
Milwaukee
9:00-11:30 - Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level)

PITCH PRACTICE with Literary Agent Abby Saul of Lark Group, who will share some tips, dos and don’ts, as well as insider info on romance trends. Tighten up your pitch for the May Conference in Green Bay. Get feedback on your opening hook and your query letter. Whatever you need, Abby can give insight from her end as a publishing partner. Bring your first page, your latest query letter, and your pitch.
Apr 15
2017
Wausau
11:15-1:15 - Vino Latte

WHAT'S THE SECRET TO MAKING A ROMANCE NOVEL POP? The answer is mystery, suspense, and tension, using a wide range of tried-and-true, nuanced techniques that can spice up any story and keep readers turning pages and coming back for more.
Apr 29
2017
Chippewa Falls
10:00-12:30 - 29 Pines @ Sleep Inn & Suites

STRENGTHENING OUR WORDS for Better Storytelling - We exercise our muscles and feed our bodies healthy foods (most of the time). But what about our brains? What about our writing skills? Stronger words make for a stronger story which makes for better sales. So join us for a discussion on this important topic!

WisRWA Newsletter



Chippewa Falls January Meeting – High Concept Story Writing

Need a cure for the winter doldrums? Come to the Chippewa Falls area meeting in January to discuss Candace Havens’s “High Concept Story Writing,” and strategies for using it in your own projects. This program is open to WisRWA members from anywhere in the state. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.Chippewa Falls Area Meeting - January 2017


2017 Fabulous Five Contest is Open for Entries!

Fab Five Contest for Unpublished Writers

The new year is here and that means the 2017 Fabulous Five Contest is open for entries! If you’re unpublished or self-published, polish your first 2,500 words  and enter today.

First round judges evaluate the entry on the Opening, Characterization, Plot, Dialogue, Setting, and Style.  In its 26th year, our contest is known for giving good, thorough critiques no matter what level of the writing journey you are at. The top five finalists in each category move onto the final round where their work is ranked by one editor and one agent. Final rankings are averaged and the winner of each category receives a beautiful Silver Quill Award.

The categories this year include:

  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • Inspirational
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Young Adult/New Adult

For more information including the complete rules, score sheet, and how to enter, please see the Fabulous Five page.  If you have any questions, please contact Molly Maka, Fabulous Five Contest Coordinator.

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03, 2017 | Contests, Fab Five, Promotions | comment |

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Don’t Fear the Synopsis!

Hand writingSo you can handle a 300 page novel, but the very thought of writing a synopsis makes you break out in a cold sweat? Does writing a synopsis stop you from sending out queries to agents and editors? Pretty sure you’re missing the synopsis gene? Liz Czukas can help. Liz will teach you a simple formula for synopsizing with plenty of tips and tricks to help you get through the worst of it. Whether you’ve got a synopsis you’re currently struggling with or you just know you’ve got one looming in your future, this workshop is for you. They don’t call her The Synopsis Whisperer for nothing!

We had an opportunity to catch up with Liz and asked her to tell us a little more about how she deals with the dreaded SYNOPSIS.

WisRWA: Tell us a little about your publishing journey.
Liz: I am a slush pile success story! It took a lot of mistakes and rejections, and a few trunked novels before I finally attracted the attention of my awesome literary agent. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows after I had an agent on my side, either! It took a few books before we made my first sale. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have 5 books published. My current YA books were published by Harper Teen, and my adult romances are with Ballantine and Loveswept. I’ve also sold in foreign territories. It’s been an exciting few years in publishing, and I can’t wait to see where my career goes next!

WisRWA: I bet you don’t even have to write a synopsis anymore!
Liz: Ha! I wish! No, on the contrary, I find them more necessary than ever. Especially when it comes to selling a book on proposal. It’s the rare writer who can sell a book on a simple pitch. Most of us have to have sample chapters and a synopsis to make the deal.

WisRWA: So would you say your perception of the dreaded synopsis has changed during your writing career?
Liz: Well, I’ll be honest, I still don’t love them. But they are definitely a necessary part of my process and definitely an essential part of the selling side of the deal. I’ve learned how they can be helpful to me at all stages of writing, and most importantly how to give myself the upper hand in my rather tempestuous relationship with synopses.

WisRWA: What’s your favorite part about being a writer?
Liz: All of it! I can’t believe I’m actually doing what I love for a living. Even when the writing is frustrating, or the business side of the job is making me crazy, the fact that there are readers out there who love my books, and put them on their lists of all-time favorites, and take their time to send me a message or seek me out on social media…it’s like, pinch me! Is this really real?

WisRWA: So what’s next for you?
Liz: I am going to be joining the ranks of hybrid authors for the first time! I’ve got a new YA book coming out in December that I’m really excited about. It’s called Throwing My Life Away, and it’ll be available in ebook and paperback wherever you like to order your books. I’ve got a few other projects in the works that I’m not at liberty to discuss right now, but suffice to say that you haven’t gotten rid of me yet!

Don’t Fear the Synposis with Liz Czukas
Saturday, November 19th at Mayfair Mall Community Room in Milwaukee 9:00am to 11:30am

Liz Czukas, Synopsis WhispererLiz Czukas is the author of books for teens like Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, and the upcoming Throwing My Life Away. She also writes for adults such as When Joss Met Matt, Call Me Maybe, and Just a Girl under the name Ellie Cahill. Before becoming a full-time writer Liz got her bachelor’s degree in History and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and illogically went on to get a Master’s in Nurse-Midwifery from Marquette University, which she put to good use as a Labor & Delivery nurse for nine years. Liz is a lifelong resident of the Milwaukee area, and currently lives in Brookfield with her family and her golden retriever.

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10, 2016 | General | comment |

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Fab Five 2017 Final Round Judges Announced

WisRWA Fab Five 2017 Contest

WisRWA’s Fabulous Five Contest will be opening for entries in a few short months. As such, we are pleased to announce our final round judges for the 2017 contest.

Contemporary
Editor: Meghan Ferrell – Tule Publishing
Agent: Rachel Burkot – Holloway Literary Agency

Historical
Lexi Smail – Grand Central Publishing
Lisa Rodgers – JABberwocky Literary Agency

Inspirational
Shana Asaro – Harlequin Love Inspired
Jessica Kirkland – Blythe Daniels Agency

Paranormal
Theresa Cole – Entangled Publishing
Tricia Skinner – Fuse Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense
Tara Gavin – Kensington Publishing Corp
Jennifer March Soloway – Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Women’s Fiction
Caitlin Dareff – St. Martin’s Press
Sarah Phair – Trident Media Group

Young Adult/New Adult
Mekisha Telfer – Simon and Schuster
Shannon Powers – McIntosh and Otis

Coming in to its 26th year, this contest is open to unpublished and self-published writers so long as the entry has never been published before. Focusing on the first 2,500 words of a manuscript, first round judges evaluate the entry on the Opening, Characterization, Plot, Dialogue, Setting, and Style. All judges are encouraged to leave comments on both the scoresheet and in the entry itself. Our contest is known for giving good, thorough critiques no matter what level of the writing journey you are at. The top five finalists in each category move onto the final round where their work is ranked by one editor and one agent. Final rankings are averaged and the winner of each category receives a beautiful Silver Quill Award.

The contest opens on January 1, 2017 and will accept entries through March 1, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST. Categories need a minimum of 10 entries to continue and are capped 35 entries.

Information will be on the WisRWA website under the Contests tab by the end of November. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Contest Coordinator, Molly Maka, at fabfivecontest@gmail.com.

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02, 2016 | Contests, Events, Fab Five | comment |

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2015 WisRWA Chapter Service Award Recipients

WisRWA’s Chapter Service Award is all about VOLUNTEERISM. It’s about serving the organization and its members as chapter leaders, such as serving on the WisRWA Board or as an Area Contact.  The award is also about serving in the trenches and volunteering in many different capacities over the time of active membership in WisRWA.

WisRWA remains healthy and strong as a helpful, mentoring professional organization for novice writers as well as published ones because members step up to fill a need when necessary. We have so many ways to serve and each position, small in its scope or large and demanding in its tasks, provides those members who accept the challenge so much more than they give.  For example, name recognition, getting to know much better other WisRWA members, learning exactly what it takes to keep this organization efficient and useful to writers from novice to best seller.

One of the best methods for honing our skills as writers is to interact with other writers. Writing can be very isolating which is why having an opportunity to expand our frame of reference and meet others writers by offering a helping hand where we can provides so much for so little.

The two recipients for the Chapter Service Awards given at the October 8th Fall Writers’ Workshop exemplify all the above characteristics. As past recipients of this award, committee members found making a choice as to which nominee was most deserving of this award very difficult. We were thankful that past practice has, on occasion, awarded two nominees. That was our choice. Both women are continuing to serve WisRWA and its members in the coming year and exemplify what makes WisRWA strong.

The 2015 WisRWA’s Chapter Service Award are Kristin Bayer and Molly Maka.

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Kristin Bayer - 2015 Chapter Service Award RecipientIn 2010, Kristin Bayer joined WisRWA and immediately volunteered when asked to help in various ways. Most significantly was 2013 when she assumed the presidency of WisRWA on short notice because of an unexpected vacancy. She served ably in that position–traveling around the state to visit and get to know members along with mentoring board members, sub-committee members, and general members with questions.

She stayed active on the board as past president giving her expertise to new members. More recently when the chapter had another unexpected vacancy on the board, she stepped forward to handle social media pages and news blasts, the WisRWA website and other communication issues. WisRWA is better for its members because of Kristen’s volunteer character trait.

In the words of her nominators, “she’s effectively filled gaps wherever she’s seen them with her incredible spirit of service.” And, “through her faithful leadership, Kristin has seen WisRWA through uncertain times and made the organization thrive.”

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Molly Maka - 2015 WisRWA Chapter Service Award RecipientMolly Maka has volunteered to help at every conference during her ten-year membership, given workshops on historical reenacting and historical costuming, attends meetings regularly, hosts events in her home, and is a “constant cheerleader for the success of our membership.”

Molly has done a fantastic job as the contest coordinator for the WisRWA Fab 5 contest. She has worked diligently to ensure the contest had the judges it needed (both preliminary and final) to be a success. Her experience as a contest judge, then a category coordinator, helped her gain the expertise to do so.

Recently Molly stepped up to help with WisRWA’s social media and outreach – taking over for a member who abruptly resigned. Molly jumped right in, stepping up to do what she could to strengthen connections within the WisRWA community, as well as build the chapter’s presence on-line. In the past month she once again volunteered and accepted a position on the WisRWA board.

Congratulations, ladies!

Mary Jo Schiebl Kate Bowmanby: Mary Jo Scheibl and Kate Bowman, Chapter Service Award Committee Chairs


Tips, Hacks and Resources for Book Research (historical and modern!)

I think we can all agree that doing the proper research makes or breaks a book. Glaringly obvious mentions of places, events or details that haven’t happened yet are akin to all of us Wisconsinites watching Titanic and realizing that Jack Dawson could not have been ice fishing on Lake Wissota in Chippawa Falls in 1912…as there wasn’t a lake yet.

Research - booksAlright, maybe I’m one of the few that is obsessed with accuracy in any movie I watch, but you get my gist. Research can not only authenticate your world building, but it can imbue your characters with truth, and a genuine placement in their surroundings. Even if you only mention something in passing, it adds a rounded, 3-dimensional depth to protagonists and antagonists alike.

If, say, your novel is set in the Civil War, even if your characters aren’t fighting in battles or even on the same continent, they’d likely hear about it in the news, or people would discuss it in passing, much like we do about major political or social news today. (If I had a quarter for every time my husband came home with a tidbit of celebrity gossip I hadn’t had a chance to hear because…babies…I’d be so rich!) Using research to allow characters to notice details, such as the pattern on the spongeware china, or the particular cut of a bodice, tells your reader that not only are they learning something, but that you did your homework.

I don’t suggest we all dive in as deeply as, say, Jean Auel did. But we can all probably create just one more small layer of richness to our novels. Those handfuls of tiny additions can really add up to one accurate story whether it is the ins and outs of a wedding planner’s job, a more involved description of a hunk’s financial schemes and clients, or the daily lifestyle of an obscure tribe in Antarctica. (I don’t think there are any…but then again, I haven’t done any research.)

So where do we get that research? Certainly the first thing that pops up in Google searches these days is some sort of Wikipedia link to potentially faulty information. But the internet is still one heck of an amazing tool with which we can supplement our information, check our facts, and hone our craft from the comfort of our laptops and pajamas.

With some time, you don’t even need to head to the library, though I’m a full-fledged believer in checking out at least one or two original volumes that might help you with some in-depth research on your most detailed subject. The internet can be completely used for research as long as you do a handful of things:

  1. Check to see how reputable the source is (ie – is the writer an expert with credentials? How old is the information (and does it matter?) Do they offer their own sources from where their knowledge is gleaned?) and whether the writer gives a bibliography at the bottom of the webpage.
  2. Dig several pages into your online search and click on at least 4 different sources to see how their information differs or concurs.
  3. Look for websites that are ‘published’ by colleges, scientists, governments and other larger-than-life sources other than a random blogger.

Beyond the internet hunting, however, discovering information for your book can also be a lot more interesting and interactive. Want to know exactly how to write the language of Pocahontas’ tribe? Reach out to the nation itself and ask for help. Care to get a taste for life in Revolutionary times? Go to a local reenactment (or better yet, ask if you can join in for a weekend in costume). I know Molly Maka has spoken to that notion and I wholeheartedly agree with her. Or at the very least, reach out to a few of the groups on Facebook and inquire about your needs – many old-timers will be more than loquacious enough for you.

Research - talk to an expertDo your characters have a specific trade or job? Run in circles you don’t touch? Reach out via Facebook, LinkedIn, or even through your own network to get some good insight. We are authors, but we are also observers and questioners – we wonder, wait, watch and then write.

Remember when you do reach out to be:

  1. Humble – you’re asking for their expertise and time. This is not the time to let our author egos get the best of us!
  2. A little self-depreciating – that goes a long way on the phone or email!
  3. Thankful and grateful.
  4. Short and sweet – the whole email should be less than 5 sentences – you’re pitching them for specific help, not pitching them your book.

This is not to add to the never-ending list of requirements aspiring or published authors have already. I’m merely hoping that this is just a nudge to remind you of easy and relatively painless and quick ways to incorporate accurate details in your novels and manuscripts to add flavor, desire and depth.

Sara Dahmenby Sara Dahmen

Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at sara@saradahmen.com. Her next novel, a romantic drama, Wine & Children, is due out by November 2016.


Bouchercon World Mystery Writers’ Conference: What Makes a Great Novel?

Rich information for writers, rich food and experiences–that’s what Bouchercon was about in New Orleans, September 15-18, held at the Marriott Hotel on Canal Street in the French Quarter. This is the same hotel where RWA held a conference several years ago.

Bouchercon is what everybody calls the Boucher conference, the worldwide event sponsored by Mystery Writers of America.

Nancy Raven Smith and Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben and Nancy Raven Smith

About 1,800 or more authors, new writers, and reader fans attend every year, including many authors of romantic suspense and romantic mysteries, including me. I have to admit it made my conference when a fan tracked me down in the book sales room to get an autograph. Then in a panel workshop, I sat next to a fan of fudge from Minnesota, so we had a nice chat, too.

What I love about Bouchercon is the easy access you have with famous authors (not me yet!), publishers, and reader fans. Everybody mills about in the casual break room, or book rooms (sales and freebies) and autographing areas, hallways, and hotel lobby. I had breakfast, for example, with this year’s guest of honor Harlan Coben. He sat down at the open chair at my table. (He fuels his writing of suspense and thrillers with fruit, mini-quiches, juice and coffee.)

During the conference Harlan shared a lot of wisdom. The just-published Home is his 30th novel. Harlan didn’t get on the bestseller list until his 10th book.

“Don’t get caught up in marketing. Your sales are gonna suck until they don’t.”

You’re also not going to get rich at first. He received a $5,000 advance for his first book, and by the fourth book he received a whopping increase to $6,000.

How do you know when your book is ready to send out? “You don’t. Your kid [your book] will get knocked. You learn through experience when it’s ready to go.”

He also said, “You can’t fix no pages; you can only fix bad pages.” In other words, write, write, write and then revise.

Do less research. Researching delays the writing. It also avoids allowing you to use your imagination.

“Believe it’s your best book yet or don’t write it,” he told the crowd.

He also doesn’t tell people what he’s working on. “Save that energy and use it to write and finish that book.”

Coben is currently working on two TV series’ deals in Europe, one of which will likely end up on Netflix in the United States soon.

Beignets

Beignets

One of the delights of this conference was going to the annual Sisters in Crime breakfast on the 41st floor, in the River Room, at 7:30 in the morning. Champagne flowed for several toasts.

I highly recommend Sisters in Crime and its Wisconsin group if you’re writing romantic mysteries or romantic suspense. The information you receive via emails is astoundingly good. Celebrating 30 years, Sisters in Crime is a support group leading the cause on issues such as more and better reviews for books by women writers and more diversity within the publishing industry.

At the breakfast, you sit down next to great authors–and fun coincidences sometimes. At my table, I introduced myself to Brad Smith–who turned out to be the husband of Nancy Raven Smith. She was a script finalist over 15 years ago when Peggy Williams and I won the Slamdance Film Festival. We hadn’t been in contact since then. Brad and Nancy and their daughter Lynn–all of them at my table–have written a new comedy memoir together called The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill. I grew up on a farm and had picked up “Bradford Smith’s” delightful bookmark by chance prior to Saturday, not knowing who he was, or knowing I’d be sitting next to him and Nancy at the breakfast.

Nancy also got her time in the limelight with Harlan Coben at one of the Mardi Gras-themed parties during Bouchercon, one of which was hosted by Heather Graham. She’s familiar to us in RWA for historical romances and over 100 novels of every kind it seems. Heather moderated the final panel on Sunday.

Some other tips from the many panels over the four days:

Humor–push it further. If you’re subtle, the reader won’t get it. Let the editor decide how far to take it.

What makes a novel cinematic and worth selling to a TV or movie production company? It has to have a “rich stew” including rich emotions, surprise potential in the scenes, and universal themes that speak to audiences.

Create more characters who might be in a wheelchair, or struggling with PTSD or autism, or other things. In general, don’t call the character “disabled.” Focus on how they’re living and coping and taking action.

Editors are looking for more multi-cultural diversity in stories and characters.

In YA books, avoid specific social media references because they change too fast. YA books have to feel current.

New forms of novels are more acceptable now, such as using a prose poem as the format for a crime novel.

On the issue of professional jealousy, Harlan Coben said, “No one has to fail so you can succeed. We’re all in this boat together.”

When you don’t have an outline, how do you start your novel? Ask “Why?” That’s the key question to push plot. Why are they where they are and why now? Start the page there.

Think only one page at a time. Otherwise, it’s too terrifying to think of 300 pages.

What makes a good book? It’s entertaining; has a main character with “voice”; and has a truth in it.

French Quarter

French Quarter

Besides the conference, Bob and I did sightseeing and ate our way around the French Quarter and on the waterfront. For those traveling to New Orleans for literary events or vacation, absolutely do not miss the World War II museum, which is one of the best museums in the country. This was our second visit to that museum and it seemed even more important to us than last time, considering the state of our world. There’s also a great narrated paddle-wheeler ride on the Mississippi, a terrific New Orleans history museum at Jackson Square in the French Quarter not to be missed, wonderful music down on Frenchmen Street, and of course we found a Packer Bar (The Irish Pub) on Decatur Street. Try the Hilton’s bar near the waterfront and convention center for happy hour; it has the best free munchies plus some say the best grilled seafood starters. We agreed!

There are endless restaurants and shops. And don’t miss the beignets at the popular Café du Monde near Jackson Square. There’s always a local band adding to the flavor of the warm, savory powdered-sugar treats.

Everything is within walking distance if you stay near the French Quarter. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott just two blocks from the Marriott. It was a quiet, sleek, contemporary and friendly place for much less dough. We didn’t rent a car this time and instead relied on the streetcars, which are cheap at $3 for hopping on and off all day.

The next Bouchercon is October 12-15, 2017 in Toronto. If you want to be on a panel, moderate, or volunteer in any way, get your ideas and registration in early. Also book hotel space early. This conference fills fast.

Christine DeSmet

by WisRWA member Christine DeSmet

Christine DeSmet is a past RWA Golden Heart winner and finalist (3 times), and Golden Pen winner with her romantic suspense, Spirit Lake. She’s the author of the Fudge Shop Mystery series set in Door County, Wisconsin, and has a new mystery series being marketed by her agent. Christine just sold the rights to her 9 “Mischief in Moonstone” romantic mystery short stories set in Wisconsin to Writers-Exchange Publishing; those are forthcoming in late fall or winter. Christine teaches novel writing and screenwriting at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies. (christine.desmet@wisc.edu)


What Lengths a Writer Goes to for Research

Highlights from the Writers’ Police Academy

The Writers’ Police Academy conference (held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, August 11-14) started with a bang on Thursday afternoon. The attendees explored armored, S.W.A.T, and bomb squad vehicles. Lesson: my characters will need a lot more agility than I have to get inside those vehicles, especially the armored one. The first step into the driver’s seat is waist high on me.

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Tried on a flak vest and crowd control shield. Didn’t even attempt the battering ram. Heavy is the theme with this equipment, including the bomb squad suit. Lesson: My characters will need physical strength to handle this stuff.
For a plastic gun, the Glock 17 was heavier than I expected, but has the sweetest trigger action. Now, when I put a Glock in a character’s hand, I know what that gun feels and shoots like, with every expectation my character can be as deadly as I was.

I learned how to poison a person with bacteria from my own cupboard or the woods out back. Useful information for any amateur sleuth that might turn up in a new series. TIP: mushrooms are unreliable, even the known poisonous ones.

I finally found a use for geometry in self-defense. It’s all about the angles. No doubt I’ll have a character using these techniques. TIP: when fighting an attacker, fists to flesh, palms to bone. Meaning, don’t punch ’em in the face and injure your knuckles. Use the heel of your palm against the jaw and cheekbones.

Friday started with a mock crash scene which involved a variety of triage scenarios, among them a trapped man needing the Jaws of Life to extricate him, testing a drunk driver, and a dead guy and his hysterical and combative mother. Yes, combative is among the normal reactions in these scenarios. We got the full show of rescue vehicles arriving with lights and sirens. Even the evac helicopter dropped in. Helpful should one of my characters get in an auto accident or come across one.

Saturday kicked off with an interactive mock lockdown. No narration. Minutes into the lecture, it just happens. A knife wound victim staggers into the lecture hall. The instructor calls for help from anyone with medical training. When three more victims stumble in, it’s a lockdown situation. Belts are used to tie shut door hinges and objects jammed into the opening mechanisms. Warnings sound over the P.A. A suspect is apprehended. But, is there an accomplice?

S.W.A.T. explodes into the room, guns drawn, shouting, “Hands on your heads!” Their presence is so commanding seven men instantly control a room of hundreds. I am experiencing an adrenaline rush, just as any character I put into this situation will. I also now know what it feels like to get frisked. Told you it was interactive.

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There’s much more I could share, from Lee Goldberg (author of the Monk Series and scriptwriter) who delivered his How to Use Research speech like a comedy routine and Tami Hoag (does anyone not know who this author is?) sharing a personal story about using research in one’s private life. Our instructors included an ATF agent, an arson investigator, a Private Investigator, and the amazing officer Colleen (The Rock) Belongea who my six foot plus defense instructor said he would not mess with. She was a favorite with everyone, and as much a face of this conference as organizer Lee Lofland, author and detective.

To view more pictures of this event, go to www.leelofland.com, The Writers’ Police Academy, or my author FB page. This excellently organized event will be repeated in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2017.

Barbara Raffin

by WisRWA member Barbara Raffin


Lonely vs Being Alone – Fall Into Fiction Workshop

Fall Into Fiction WorkshopWe all know what it’s like to feel lonely. You can be in a room full of friends and family, people you love, and still feel lonely. They can all be talking, laughing, having a good time, and you feel like you’re outside looking in through glass. Being lonely is not the same as being alone.

Being alone is taking a much needed break from everything outside ourselves. It’s going for a long walk. It’s reading a really good book without interruption or making a jigsaw puzzle while watching a movie marathon. We all need a day like this now and then, a day where we can shut out all the worries and concerns of our everyday life. Doesn’t matter how you unwind, the point is we all need to unwind…alone.

As writers we cherish our alone time, hoard it hungrily and protect it with the ferocity of a well-trained watch dog. This is the time we can most clearly hear our characters speak to us. This is the time we can let our muse take over our thoughts, the time we can allow our plot to percolate through our brains and out our fast-typing fingertips. Writers are by nature solitary creatures. Oh, we do seek each other out from time to time to compare notes, share tips of the trade, and to reassure ourselves that we aren’t truly alone because all mankind has succumbed to a zombie apocalypse except for us and we somehow missed it while we were being alone. It’s why I belong to a number of writers’ organizations and critique groups. These are the people who help me remember WHY I write. Conferences and workshops are an excellent opportunity to not be alone.

My Chippewa Falls area of WisRWA is sponsoring a one-day Fall Into Fiction Workshop, on Saturday, October 8th, and I’m looking forward to meeting others who feel the creative urge the way I do. I’m hoping to put some faces to the names.

Come join us at The Plaza Hotel & Suites, 1202 W. Clairmont Ave, Eau Claire to hear journalist, author, and editor Candace Havens speak. In the morning it’s about “The Book Map: Plotting Your High Concept Ideas,” and in the afternoon “Fast Draft and Revision Hell.” (We all know what that’s about, right!?) Arrive early and join us for book signings and a pizza party Friday night.

I hope to see you there, but hurry! Seats are limited and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to not be “alone” on October 8th.

Find out more about the Fall Into Fiction Workshop, or register online.

Jane Yunkerby WisRWA member Jane Yunker – this blog originally appeared at www.janeyunkerauthor.com.


Writing Sexy Love Scenes: September in Green Bay

Randi Alexander on Writing Sexy Love ScenesAre you wondering what the Greater Green Bay group is up to? Well, on September 7th at 11:30 a.m., at the 1951 Restaurant, the talented Randi Alexander is coming to town to help us learn to write steamy love scenes. Randi is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and she’s chosen to spend her valuable time with us! We couldn’t be more thrilled.

Here’s a little interview I did with Randi to get to know her better and to gain a little insight from her.

Q: What or who inspired you to write steamy romances?
A: I’ve always loved reading romance, since I was a teenager, and I soon realized I enjoyed the spicier books more than the ones with the closed bedroom doors. Writing books with a number and variety of love scenes – to me – is telling the whole story of a romantic relationship. What happens between the sheets gives us insight into our characters, sometimes in a way that non-love scenes can’t.

Q: Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
A: I do. I pull my hair up into a bun, put on comfortable clothes (usually a muu muu) then I have a snack before I start writing. Oh, and the room has to be very quiet.

Q: What for you constitutes ‘sexy?’
A: Sexy is not just a running description of what part he has where, what thing she’s doing to him, etc. Its scenes written with emotion that reveal our characters’ deepest feelings, scenes with lovingly detailed description of the physical connection between our characters, and long, sweet afterglow scenes where so much can go right…and wrong!

Q: Who is your favorite character from one of your stories and why?
A: I’m having a lingering girl-crush on the last character I wrote. In Saddle and a Siren (an August 11 release in Sable Hunter’s Hell Yeah! Kindle World) I made Kally Zappa a strong, competent rancher who cusses, handles 2,500 bulls, but is still sweet and funny enough to attract the undivided attention of Paramedic Clint Black. I began the story with this independent, capable woman finding herself vulnerable and in dire need of rescue, and made her first-responder fall crazy-in-love with every contradictory inch of her.

Q: What advice would you like to share with new writers?
A:

  1. Know the rules. Learn grammar, punctuation, point of view, tenses, etc. before you write a whole book. Once you’re comfortable with the rules, you can focus on the story without having to worry about the basics.
  2. A mentor – whether it’s a well-seasoned writer or a critique group or a RWA chapter. You don’t have to do it alone, and your writing will benefit so much from the input of those who have done it all before.
  3. Professionals to make your manuscript shine. I strongly suggest that my mentees publish through a reputable small press so they learn how the process works. Everything from editing to cover art to marketing, a small press is dedicated to helping you succeed. Where you go after that is your choice, but you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to publish professionally presented stories.

More About the Program – Writing Sexy Love Scenes with Randi Alexander
Keep your readers engrossed in your stories by creating love scenes that are romantic, emotional, and sensually descriptive. In this interactive, hands-on workshop, we will focus on: 1) building sexual tension throughout your book, 2) producing physical love scenes and climaxes that are emotional, unique, and unforgettable, and 3) ways to give your readers the impact they crave during the quiet moments of afterglow snuggling. You’ll learn to ask yourself two easy questions as you write, and the answers to these questions will make every scene emotionally gripping, sensually gratifying, or both!

More About Randi
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Randi Alexander knows a modern woman dreams of an alpha cowboy who takes the reins, and guarantees they’re rode hard and put up satisfied. Published with Cleis Press, The Wild Rose Press, and self-published, Randi writes smokin’ hot romance with heroes who’ll have you begging to ride off into the sunset with them. When she’s not dreaming of, or writing about, rugged cowboys, Randi is biking trails along remote rivers, snorkeling the Gulf of Mexico, or practicing her drumming in hopes of someday forming a tropical rock-band.

Forever an adventurous spirit with a naughty imagination, Randi is also family-oriented and married to the best guy in the world, her own cowboy, Kick. Give in to the allure of erotic passion, strong but vulnerable heroines, and irresistibly seductive cowboys, as Randi’s emotional love stories sweep you off your feet and leave you breathless with passion.

Saddle up! And prepare yourself for the sexier side of happily ever after.

Randi Alexander loves to connect with her readers! Say “Howdy” on Twitter, sign up for her newsletter at her website RandiAlexander.com, and fall head over spurs for her cowboys on Facebook.

We can’t wait for Randi’s workshop!
Wednesday, September 7th, 11:30am
at 1951 Restaurant in Green Bay
For more information, contact Green Bay area coordinator Val Clarizio (valclarizio @ yahoo.com).

Val Clarizioby WisRWA member Val Clarizio