Three WisRWA authors, Beth James, Amy Sandas, and Tina Susedik, presented a panel on romance writing recently, at the MacMillan Library’s Fine Arts Center in Wisconsin Rapids. The panel was moderated by Eric Norton, who is both the customer service manager for the library, and an editor for Publisher’s Weekly. Tina Susedik shared her thoughts on the evening.
The evening was cold and windy, and so the attendance was lower than we’d expected. But that turned out to make for a more intimate, comfortable event. Instead of sitting at the table set up for us on the stage in the theater, we sat on the edge of the stage, making us eye level with the attendees. We were able to showcase our books as we talked and after the presentation.
The audience had many questions for us and everyone participated. Rather than a typical Q&A or lecture, the evening was more free-wheeling discussion, with the audience and authors all asking questions of each. Audience members included fans, aspiring romance authors, and even one an avid reader who had never previously read any romance. Lori Oestreich, another WisRWA member, also came to support us. It was great to see her smiling face.
We talked about the publishing world – both self and traditional. Our panel had experience in both worlds, and could offer insights into both. Other topics included creating characters, plotting vs. pantsing, what makes a romance, the part setting plays in stories, why we write romance, and how we edit our stories, and people’s impressions of the romance writing world. We talked and answered questions for an hour and a half.
A question from the reader who had never read a romance cut to the heart of the genre. She asked, “If all romances have to have a happy ending, and you know that, then why read a romance?” Amy Sandas’s response was perfect. She pointed out that it’s not unlike reading suspense or mystery novels. We know that the bad guy is going to caught in the end, yet we still read them. What’s important to the reader is the way the story is written and the journey to the end. That’s what makes the experience of reading the novel so satisfying.
Afterward, the conversation continued. A number of people attending were interested to learn more about WisRWA and RWA. And they were glad to have a chance to talk with experienced authors about their own ventures into romance writing. This is one of the best parts about being an author, and we were glad they braved the weather to come out to talk with us.
by WisRWA Member Tina Susedik
As a child, Tina always had stories floating around in her head, but had no idea those stories could be put down in book form. One day her brother (yes, her brother) introduced her to Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower. Tina’s first romance, Riding for Love, was released in the spring of 2013. Visit Tina at www.tinasusedik.wordpress.com
Barbara M. Britton will be a panelist at the WEMTA Author Fair on March 19, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. She will also be at the New Berlin Public Library on April 1st, 2017 from 10:00 AM –1:00 PM their Local Author Fair. She will be celebrating her print release of “Building Building: Naomi’s Journey.”
Lois Greiman will be signing books and giving a workshop called ‘Writing From the Heart’ at the Rosemount Writers’ Festival in Rosemount, MN on March 18th.
The Milwaukee Area is hosting Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company on Saturday, March 18. He’ll be talking about trends in publishing, from the perspective of a bookseller. He’ll be looking at the relationships between publisher/bookstore and novelist/bookstore, as well as field questions about book launches and readings. We thought you might like to get to know him a bit before his talk, so we asked him a few questions.
Q: Why do you think Boswell is thriving?
A: Honestly, I wake up every day and ask myself that question. I honestly wouldn’t say thriving, but chugging along. Every store is two mistakes away from closing. But I definitely can credit my booksellers (particularly Amie and Jason, our buyer/managers, but there’s a lot of amazing contributions), my customers, our landlords (we’ve had two), the previous owners of Schwartz, my family, publisher support, and author support too. I would say on my part, there are a few things that help:
I am also a big fan of under-promising. It’s better to be a little better than expectations than vice versa. I’ve found that’s a good character fit for Milwaukee, which also can be a little better than you’d expect.
Q: Do I read romance novels?
A: Of course I’ve read romance novels. And I can answer that question in two ways.
Firstly, many books masquerading as other genres, or no genre, are in fact romances, from YA to contemporary women’s fiction to historical and even a good amount of what poses as literary fiction (meaning that the author also teaches in an AWP program).
And secondly, in my day, I’ve read pretty serious genre. In my past life, I was a publicist at Warner Books, which had a strong group of romance writers. I would try to read one of the books so that I could talk about them more fluently. One year I even helped run our booth at the RWA convention. I was a big fan of Dorothy Garlock, and while we haven’t corresponded in many years, we continued to be pen pals (yes, this is pre-computer) for quite a while after I left publishing. I was a big fan of our two romance editors, the now-retired Fredda Isaacson, and Claire Zion, who is still editing at Berkley/NAL. One of her current authors is Renée Rosen, who is at Boswell for Windy City Blues on March 21, 1 pm. It’s a great historical about the Chicago music and Civil Rights scene in the 50s and 60s with a romance at the center.
Thanks for talking with us, Daniel! We’ll see you on March 18.
Saturday’s meeting is open to all. Come visit if you’d like to see what WisRWA is about.
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.
Wolf and the Moon by Kayla Bain-Vrba
Building Benjamin by Barbara M. Britton
Winter Homecoming by Lyn Cote
Surprise Me Again by Anita Kidesu
Join the Green Bay area for the March meeting with author and website designer, Elle J. Rossi. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.
James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
I think that’s where most of us are, which might be why many writing gurus like Anne Lamott encourage bad first drafts, but we won’t talk about those today. Instead, I’ll focus on revision. I’d like to share my top three tips.
First, put some time between your drafts. At least a few days. A week or a month or two might be better. Most of us fall in love with our stories and we need that infatuation to ebb, so we can read our work without the rosy-everything’s awesome glasses. A little time gives us the emotional distance to view work anew and figure out what’s missing and what might need to change.
Second, have someone else read your work before you upload or send it off to be discovered. Critique partners or first readers can catch story inconsistencies and areas that aren’t understandable in your work. They can tell you which characters they connect to or which one they really don’t understand. Also, they can spot spelling or grammar errors.
At a writer’s conference I attended a copy editor admitted that even she makes mistakes occasionally and when she does, she doesn’t let it bother her because she figures it takes an average of sixteen pairs of eyes to get a manuscript to published flawlessness. Your critique buddies can be one of those first sets of editing eyes. Also, one of the best things about having critique partner or group is that you can become great friends.
My third tip is to try for good or very good instead of perfect. Because being human, and not possessing sixteen sets of eyes yourself, a totally perfect scene or manuscript is unattainable. Too much revision may add hours to your tasks and if you’re like me—it’s a buzz kill. It ruins the fun. So, my advice—do the best you can, look your work over a few times and then stop. Good is good enough.
When I’m not writing, I’m teaching, and I fit the one of the instructor stereotypes. I ask my students to re-think their drafts and to revise more than once. Revision and re-evaluating life decisions are themes that frequently appear in my fiction.
by: Mia Jo Celeste
Mia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise that she decided to pursue both careers. She’s an adjunct instructor, who just published her first release, Other Than, your grandma’s Gothic romance gone uber.
Join the Milwaukee area as they welcome literary agent Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary. Laura will give live critiques of love scenes. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.
Literary Agent Laura Zats with Red Sofa Literary Agency in the Twin Cities will facilitate a Hot Nights Critique Workshop for Milwaukee Chapter WisRWA on Saturday, February 18th from 9am to 11:30. Bring up to three pages of your love/sex scene—from sweet to scorching—to share with the group. Laura will give some feedback and we’ll chat about what makes for a great romance. Hey, it’s what makes the world go ‘round.
Jennifer Rupp, area contact for the Milwaukee area, interviewed Laura in advance to find out what makes her literary mind tick when it comes to love scenes.
J: What do you think makes a sex scene hot?
L: For me, I love to see a really seamless combination of the mental and the physical–it’s the only way to really understand the passion of the characters as a reader. Having lots of the characters thoughts interjected isn’t quite what I mean–instead, I mean the emotions, awareness of what the sex might change, or awareness of how unexpected it is. Awareness of what the other person might be thinking. It takes the fact that a character might be wrapped up in the physical sensations and amplifies it, makes it more than just physics and mechanics.
J: Is there anything you consider taboo?
L: Not a ton, honestly. I’m 100% supporting of kink as long as it’s accurately and consensually portrayed! In fact, it even makes things more fun in a lot of scenes!
J: Do you make a distinction between a love scene and a sex scene?
L: I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of a difference! Since I represent books with a high heat level, no, I don’t distinguish a difference for my list. It’s kind of all the same thing. But now that I’m chewing on it, I think I view “love scenes” as more emotional expressions–declarations of love, a first, passionate kiss. Sex is, well, sex. It definitely (and often is) an expression of emotion, but there’s chemistry and a level of communication that is added on top of that emotional output that I find really interesting, which is why my books have more of those.
J: What kinds of phrases or euphemisms make you weary?
L: Velvet-wrapped steel! No one wants a fuzzy penis. That’s mostly it for the male side of the spectrum (although I do think “length” is overused), unless a writer gets too flowery or too crude. For women, I HATE when they mewl, purr, or do anything that likens them to a housecat. I’m also not a huge fan of natural imagery for the vagina–flowers, caves, etc.
J: What kinds of settings or devices are over or under used? i.e. shower scenes, candles, etc.
L: I don’t think I’ve read a candle scene in months, so I can’t say I’m sick of them, but they’re definitely cliche–I think a more modern version of this one is a fireplace. I love a good shower scene–there’s something wonderfully utilitarian about it–but I definitely see too many hot tub scenes. You get overheated too easily and water is a terrible lubricant! I don’t see as much oral sex as you would think, especially not to completion, which is a shame, because it has some fun power dynamics an author can play with. I would love to see more clearly-narrated protection (so many condoms just disappear or just never existed at all), and would love to see women bringing their one-night-stands home, rather than always having to make them do the walk of shame. Abs, too, are definitely over-represented, as are blue/green/gray eyes.
by: Jennifer Rupp
Jennifer Rupp is the Area Contact for Milwaukee Chapter of WisRWA. She writes under the name of Jennifer Trethewey. Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency in New York represents her Highland House historical romance series. Jennifer has placed in the SOLA Dixie Kane Memorial Contest, Indiana’s Golden Opportunity Contest, and WisRWA’s Fab Five Contest. She’s a member of Wisconsin RWA, a PRO member of RWA, Red Oak Writing Studio, and Wisconsin Writers Association.
Join the Chippewa Falls Area meeting this month as they tackle Candace Havens’s Revisions From Hell. It will piggy back on what was learned during the January meeting.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.