The 2019 WisRWA Write Touch Conference is over and it’s time to start looking ahead to Chippewa Fall’s October 2020 Retreat. That’s right, instead of a workshop, we’re holding a retreat.
Yes, we’re going to be doing some writing so plan to bring your work-in-progress; but it’s NOT just about work. There’s going to be lots of fun, too. There will be games and prizes, good food, drinks for those who like to imbibe some, and plenty of opportunities to have a good time with other writers. As you all know from other workshops and conferences, romance writers know how to have a good time.
Everyone’s going to be assigned a brainstorming group. How many groups and how large will depend on attendance. Groups will be made up of a mix of attendees and subgenres, because sometimes the best ideas come from someone totally different than ourselves. So, if you’re stuck on your plot, have characters who just won’t behave, or hate your title, bring that with, too. You might find your answer in your group.
There will be times when we break from our groups and go off to our own little corner to write. This is where you put into words the inspiration you received from others. I know, you could do this at home but you might be surprised how much more you accomplish at a retreat. The Chippewa Falls area does this every year and I write so much more when I’m with the others. I think it’s a combination of inspiration and accountability. No one wants to be the one to say they frittered away the time and accomplished nothing, when everyone else made their goal.
And don’t forget, this is when WisRWA holds its annual meeting.
Because this is a retreat and not a workshop, it’s being held in a retreat center (think large house) and not a hotel. It will be a very economical weekend get-away. There are no built-in costs for speakers, editors, or agents. And you don’t have to consider the added cost of a hotel room on top of conference space. There’s a full kitchen so we don’t have to cover the extra cost of catering, only food. (The logistics of food will be determined at a later date.) Paying for an over-priced glass of wine at a noisy crowded bar? No! We can bring our own. So start putting together your car pools and plan on attending.
Just one thing: Because this isn’t a hotel with many rooms to offer, attendance is going to have to be capped. The place we’re hoping to contract sleeps 40 in 10 bedrooms (no bunk beds) and there are 4 bathrooms. And it’s easy to get to, about 13 miles south of Eau Claire. Once we sign, a link will be shared so everyone can see just how nice this is going to be.
by: Jane Yunker
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. Her romantic women’s fiction novel, “Mary Bishop”, finaled in the 2016 Fab Five competition’s historical category. She is currently working on her second novel, “The Healing Heart”, which finaled in the 2018 Fab Five competition’s historical category. 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), and the Romantic Women’s Fiction (RWF) online chapter of RWA.
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.
Everywhere I looked, a potential story scene loomed. Who was she meeting in that corner room? Why is she rocking out in front of everyone with her happy dance? That’s what attending the Write Touch Conference did to me. It inspired me to be creative and share my tales through the power of the written word. To paraphrase conference speaker and author Lisa Cron, we are wired to share stories.
I attended the Write Touch Conference to become a better writer. Like a sponge, I soaked in as much information as I could. I learned about story beats and crafting a scene. Marketing tips flowed freely from the speakers. Personal stories from beginning and accomplished authors on their path to publication uplifted me.
Being a novice, I’m still learning the basic elements of writing a novel. So, I’m plunging headfirst into romance novel plot points, using the #writetouchconference as my guide. With the plot structure adapted from Priscilla Oliveras‘s Gale Online Course, I’ve developed a story outline that incorporates some of the conference highlights.
Conrad Hastings. He graduated from college a few decades ago, never took a creative writing course, and fell asleep numerous times reading Wuthering Heights. An unlikely romance novel writer.
Ms. Write Touch Conference. Teacher extraordinaire, romance professor, and connoisseur of fine wines. Heroine of all heroines. Motto: Dare to be Decadent.
Tara Fischer. Nicer than the girl next door, she wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. The logical love interest for Conrad, she won’t get in the way between a writer and his muse.
Reaching his mid-life crisis at full throttle, Conrad must write an entertaining novel to impress Tara or risk losing her to the sexy Scottish Highlander literary heroes (once she’s gone kilt, she’ll never come back).
Romance Plot Outline
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
Conrad has heard that phrase before, but it especially stung when it came from his friend Tara. A voracious reader, she could not look into his eyes. He’s asked her for an honest review of his novel, but he sensed her hesitation to tell the plain truth. He knew. He’s known all along. His writing sucked and he needed help.
Tara slid her smart phone across the restaurant table, opened to the WisRWA conference web page. No words were needed. He realized he has to attend.
Conrad cautiously stepped through the Hyatt vestibule, his senses overwhelmed with the busy lobby. But there she was – she could not be missed. Plastered on placards and a large wall, Ms. Write Touch Conference welcomed all writers.
Conrad nearly jumped out of his shoes from the slight tap on his shoulder. He turned around to gawk at the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
“Welcome,” Ms. Write declared with a large grin, “I’m so happy you could attend.”
More enduring than advertised, she promised to guide him throughout the day. She suggested attending both writing and publishing/marketing events. Conrad was already smitten before the conference sessions even began.
Development (Intimacy Grows)
Day One lived up to the hype. Literary agents Courtney Miller-Callihan, Kimberly Brower, and Laura Zats talked about the current state of publishing and offered insights into new trends and possibilities. Editors Jennie Conway and Madeleine Colavita and Author Becca Puglisi offered constructive criticism to authors wanting a fresh and resplendent start to their novels. Authors Angela Ackerman, Mel Jolly, and Angie Stanton provided ideas to find his audience and connect with them. The indelible and genuine Lisa Cron taught an all-day, intensive writing course on crafting the irresistible novel. Conrad felt his confidence grow, knowing even published writers had obstacles to conquer on their journey to success.
Yet, he did not have Ms. Write’s full attention. She guided other aspiring and veteran writers through the smorgasbord of conference offerings. Night One’s special: An Evening with Daring and Decadent Girls. He wished he could be there to share in the fun, but family commitments came first. Will missing the evening adventure derail his novel?
Day Two was just as dazzling as the first day. Authors Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi, Valerie Biel, Mel Jolly, Amy Reichert, Lisa Cron, Angie Stanton, and Bobbi Dumas discussed novel writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Keynote Speaker Maya Rodale spoke about writing the right story. He was given the tools to be successful. It was up to him to apply them, but fortunately inspiration was as close as the titillating glass elevator. He now had the perfect setting for writing a sex scene.
Guilt washed over Conrad’s face, stuck on the outside, looking in. There Ms. Write was again, center stage in the best restaurant with the best view, basking in glory as the sun set upon downtown Milwaukee. He had to go home early, while she regaled the writers with Daring Dialogue and Decadent Prose. Does she even miss him?
Misery or Big Black Moment
Why did he even want to write a novel? A great friend, Tara will always like him, even if his head-hopping scenes and verb conjugation made her dizzy. Ms. Write was there to provide the tools for a successful career and to provide guidance, support, and encouragement for his writing journey. He’s got the support, but he searched for motivation.
It’s simple – he wanted to share his stories and donate any proceeds to his favorite charities.
At breakfast, in-between sharing bites of bacon with his dog, he realized he does not have to be jealous of Ms. Write. She favored no one, but supported everyone. She wanted all authors to succeed.
He made a promise. In two years’ time, he will reconnect with Ms. Write Touch Conference. She will be impressed. So will Tara.
By T. Ganfield
Tom Ganfield is working on his first novel, Chasing Chestnut, with younger versions of Conrad and Tara. As a dog lover, he is trying to position Chestnut (the dog) to steal scenes and the hearts of his characters (and maybe the readers?).
This exciting conference weekend in Milwaukee is coming up so fast it’s making my head spin.
There will be so many opportunities to meet your writer squad, rejuvenate your writing spirit, learn your craft, relax and discuss your passion for writing and love of storytelling!
Storyteller, Lisa Cron is excited, too!
We are so happy to introduce everyone to Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius and Wired for Story.
Lisa Cron’s writing intensive kicks off on Friday morning April 5th at 9am. Originally, Lisa’s intensive was scheduled only for the morning, but she loves talking about writing and to writers. So Lisa is going to work with writers all day at this workshop. All day!
We’ll kick off the intensive at 9 am and go until 4:30 pm on Friday April 5th. As we don’t want anyone to suffer from information overload, we’ve planned a coffee break in the middle of the morning and afternoon sessions and a lunch break from 12-1:30 pm.
If all day is just too much for you, relax. You can jump in and participate in the intensive in the morning or afternoon, whenever you’re most comfortable or most inspired!
There will be plenty of time to meet Lisa, talk about writing with her, work on your own writing and ultimately, you’ll become a better storyteller!
Here’s the description of Lisa Cron’s intensive so you’ll have a solid idea of what to expect when attending the workshop:
“Every writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go, and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of endlessly writing draft after draft. This workshop will give you actionable ways to meet both goals. Instead of rooting around in your “plot” for the story, you’ll unearth the key elements specific to your story that will then create the plot, bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning. These elements have little to do with the surface events or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re hardwired to respond to in every story we read (turns out the brain is far less picky about lyrical language than we’ve been lead to believe). You’ll be able to zero in on what your story is actually about before you write word one, or if you’re in the midst of your umpteenth rewrite, before you write another word. You’ll not only produce a more powerful novel, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.”
For more information about the conference, Lisa Cron’s intensive, and to register, click here.
by: Tricia Quinnies, Write Touch Conference Coordinator
I’m tickled pink to meet Maya Rodale next April. So you can meet her too, get out your redsharpie and mark it on your calendar –
Meet Maya Rodale…
The Write Touch Conference
APRIL 4-7, 2019
The Hyatt Regency –Milwaukee, Wisconsin
To prepare you for meeting Ms. Rodale, here’s more about this fabulous author. To be fair,listed below are the bits about Maya that I really want to further explore when we meet at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee at #WisRWA19.
*What is Maya’s mother’s name? We have to find out and thank her…profusely. As it’sbecause of her mother, who insisted her daughter read romances, Maya now reads,writes and advocates for the romance genre. Thank you, Mrs.____________!
*Penny is Maya’s beautiful dog. As you can see in the picture, Penny is dazzling and she deserves her title as a Lady. How has Penny become so deserving of her title? Inquiring minds, especially those with pets, want to know more about Penny.
*Maya hooked me with, “It has pockets,” the blurb from her latest title, Duchess by Design. How did Maya Rodale tap into my own quirky fashion necessity? How does Maya do it? Get readers to bond with her heroines in less than a nanosecond!
Comment and tell me what your questions are for Maya Rodale! Together, we’ll find out the answers in April 2019.
Duchess by Design came out in November. I plan to hunker down after the holiday season with my copy. In January I will be cozying up with some warm fleece socks, a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate and my trusty soft pants…with pockets.
Daring and Decadent Storyteller
Registration for WisRWA’s Write Touch Conference opened on the 1st of October. Our biennial event promises to offer something for every genre fiction writer. No matter if you’re starting your 1st book or finishing your 25th book, we’ve planned a conference to meet all your wordsmithing needs.
From April 4th to Sunday April 7th 2019, we may have to brave the finicky spring weather in Milwaukee, but we’ll be able to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow writers from around the state and hobnob with literary agents and editors from around the country.
For me, enjoying Milwaukee comes naturally since I was born and raised in the city. I’m comfortable around lots of concrete buildings and bridges that wind over the Milwaukee River. I also happen to love the challenge of one-way streets when driving. Once upon a time, it was almost safe to walk barefoot down Brady Street.
In my humble opinion, Milwaukee is a beautiful city. It’s not too big. It’s not too small. It’s walkable. There’s a lot of good food, many fun happy hours and a rich history with its diverse community.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert is a terrific book that takes place in, you guessed it, Milwaukee. Ms. Reichert gives her characters the chance to explore the best of the best in Milwaukee, and readers can go along and enjoy the ride. It’s a sweet and delicious read that will introduce you to Milwaukee.
So let’s talk about Milwaukee…
I have a copy of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake that I’d love to give to someone. Just be the first one to comment about Milwaukee below to kick start the conversation and my copy will become yours to keep.
Bonus: The winner can get it autographed, since Amy will be at #WisRWA19!
Don’t forget to sign up for the conference. You can do so by clicking here. See you April!
Tricia Quinnies* writes contemporary romantic adventures. She sets her stories around Wisconsin to spin in her home state’s rich and quirky history. Her characters are known to walk the shores of Lake Michigan or the beaches of Lake Geneva. They dine in supper clubs, bowl in Door County and sip on a brandy old-fashioned, or two. Of course, the characters in Ms. Quinnies’ stories are Bucks, Brewers and Packers fans.
Just Desserts, Ms. Quinnies’ first book was published in 2014. It’s the first in a series and set her on a new adventure in self-publishing. She is a freelance writer. Her features about local families are published monthly in the Bayside Scene, a news magazine published by Best Version Media. She is a member of WisRWA (Wisconsin Romance Writers of America) and Red Oak Writers.
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring Wisconsin-based authors and members of Romance Writers of America (RWA). As an advance introduction to the organization and its authors, Renaissance conducted a series of 8 interviews. This final interview is with Molly Maka, Vice President of Communications on the WisRWA Board of Directors.
Author of World War II Romance and a 1940’s Girl at Heart
Molly Maka is an author of World War II romantic fiction actively seeking publication. When she isn’t writing about happily ever afters on the battlefield, she can be found going on adventures with her husband and young son, sharing her love of vintage clothing and traditional wet sets, time traveling through historical reenactments, thanking any veteran she comes across (especially of the Greatest Generation variety), and singing in the stratosphere. She also proudly serves as a volunteer and Bombshell with the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. She serves as WisRWA’s Vice President of Communications.
RTW: What is WisRWA and when was it established?
MOLLY: WisRWA or Wisconsin Romance Writers of America is the state charter for the national organization Romance Writers of America founded in 1982. The mission of WisRWA is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to help writers become published and establish careers in their writing field, and to provide continuing support for writers.
Whether a beginning writer, or a seasoned, award-winning author, WisRWA supports writers through every stage of their careers. We hold monthly meetings with professional development workshops on writing craft and publishing (traditional and indie) in four areas across the state – Chippewa Falls, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Wausau. The groups offer encouragement, industry and marketing information, and educational and critique opportunities.
Every year WisRWA hosts either an annual conference or intensive workshop where writers can learn, network, and meet with editors and agents. We also hold two writing contests each year, one for published and one for unpublished writers.
RTW: What does WisRWA do for local writers?
MOLLY: Some of the many benefits include:
RTW: Can anyone join?
MOLLY: WisRWA membership is open to any RWA® member in good standing and costs only $25 per year. You must be a member of the national organization to join, but writers of all genres are welcome and can benefit from what WisRWA has to offer.
RTW: If a person just wants to see what it’s all about can she/he come to a meeting and check it out?
MOLLY: If you are curious about whether WisRWA is right for you, we welcome you to attend one of our meetings as our guest. Guests are welcome to attend two meetings before being asked to join. Please check out the calendar on our website for more information.
Photo Credit: Darlene Martin
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring Wisconsin-based authors and members of Romance Writers of America (RWA). As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the seventh interview of the series.
Historical Romance Author
Bobbi Groover is the author of SEASON OF THE SHADOW and THE INN AT LITTLE BEND. Being an accomplished equestrienne, her love of horses placed her settings in a time when horses were the mode of transportation. THE INN AT LITTLE BEND was Winner of the CBRM Blue Ribbon Award, Winner in the Published Beacon Contest, Finalist in ACRA Heart of Excellence, and a Finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. For more information and to read reviews and watch the trailers visit her website.
RTW: What attracts you most about writing romance novels or the romance genre in general?
BOBBI: For me the romance genre is all encompassing. I write in the timeframe of antebellum America, a time when romance was…well…romantic. There was no Internet, no emoji hearts or kisses to send with the tap of a finger. People spoke face to face. Yet in their story there can be mystery, even psychic experiences that they don’t understand and are loathe to talk about. Within the story there can be murder, intrigue and even espionage. Within the wax and wane of the romance, the writer weaves a tapestry depicting the complexities of the lovers’ day to day lives. Is it a ‘romance’ novel? Surely it is but it is not just a story of two people who find love, it is a story of the time in which they live, be it nineteenth century or present day.
What I find most attractive about writing romance is giving the reader a heartthrob or possibly a heartache. I want the reader to care about the characters, to become one with them and miss them when the story is finished. If the characters come alive for the reader, then I’ve done my job as a writer. Bottom line…just because it is classified a ‘romance’ novel doesn’t mean the story isn’t a compelling, page turner as well.
RTW: Have you ever felt dismissed because you write romance vs ‘serious’ fiction? Have you ever been tempted to use initials to disguise your gender as a writer?
BOBBI: Quite often I have been at a social gathering, meeting new people, and someone asks what I do with my days. (Odd question but people actually do ask.) When I tell them I’m a novelist I can see the interest in their eyes. However, when I tell them I write romance, the interest dies and the smile fades. Their expression clearly states that somehow writing ‘romance’ is not really writing. “Oh, you write trashy stuff.” With that statement, I have been summarily dismissed. “No,” I respond to their blatant disinterest. “I write romance interwoven with an intriguing story.” Depending on the other person’s expression I’ve sometimes even continued. “Are my novels fine classical literature? No. Actually, they are fun, light reading, but with a powerful story and irresistible, heart stopping characters that I hope will grip you to the very last page.” At this point I sip whatever is in the glass in my hand and smile sweetly as any good romantic heroine would do. I love the romance genre and it is ‘serious’ fiction to anyone with a heart beating within them.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been tempted to use initials to disguise my gender as a writer. I’m honored to be a part of the genre. No matter what the gender of the writer, when lovers meet sparks fly. There’s a story to be told, and I feel privileged to present it.
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring Wisconsin-based authors and members of Romance Writers of America (RWA). As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the sixth interview of the series.
Romantic Suspense Writer
Award-winning author Nicolette Pierce is a member of The Authors Guild, Moraine Writers Guild, and Romance Writers of America. She is the prolific author of the romantic suspense Nadia Wolf, Mars Cannon, and Metal Girls series, as well as the spin-off character novels that accompany the series.
RTW: What attracts you most about writing romance novels or the romance genre in general?
Nicolette: I love men. They intrigue me and it’s fun to explore them through writing. My pen is law, but it’s exciting when they try to break the rules.
RTW: Is having your latest novel optioned for a movie something that interests you? And what do you think would be up and down sides to someone making your story into a Hollywood movie or Hallmark movie of the week?
Nicolette: That would be an interesting experience, but I’m not currently knocking on Hollywood’s door. Several fans have said they could see my books up on the big screen, yet would they maintain their flavor? I’m not sure. I rarely say no to opportunities, and that would be an amazing one.
RTW: Do you let other people read your writing before you submit it to a publisher or an agent?
Nicolette: Yes. I feel it’s important. I’m in a writers group and when they are through pulling my work apart, then I give it to my mom. “They” say not to give your work to family or friends because they won’t be honest with their feedback. “They” haven’t met my mom. I think she might have an evil streak in her. But I value the feedback immensely. In the near future, I might start using beta-readers as well.
RTW: Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you think are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Nicolette: I am happily self-published. That’s not to say I don’t look for growing opportunities, but I’m not stunted with self-publishing either. The path is my own, which I like very much. Pros: The sky is the limit? Nope. Not even the sky can hold you down. You are your own boss and make your own decisions. Your success or failure is completely in your hands. Cons: It’s a lot of work and a few learning curves to navigate.
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the fifth interview of the series.
Mia Jo Celeste
Dark Worlds Ripe for Redemption
Mia Jo Celeste is from a family of English teachers and authors. After fifteen years as an English for Language Learners teacher, she is trying her hand at writing. She has completed four fantasy novels, the first of which is published by Wild Rose Press. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband and sons.
RTW: In the play, the character Olivia partially blames the failure of her first book on her editor’s choice in covers. How important do you think covers are to a book’s success or failure?
Mia: I believe readers really do judge books by their covers and that a compelling cover can pique a potential buyer’s interest. When my publisher hooked me up with an artist, I sent her all kinds of pictures of period gowns. I wanted to have my heroine facing off evil in a to-die-for dress and that’s exactly what I got.
RTW: Have you ever received a bad review? If so, how did you handle it? Did it ever discourage you or make you question your worth as a writer?
Mia: When I first started writing, I entered a lot of contests. I would stew over critical comments from judges. One fall I entered the same 25 pages in five contests. In one contest, the pages earned an incredibly low score. In two others, they received an average score and in two others they reached first or second place with almost perfect marks. I wondered how the exact same words could inspire such diverse results? I finally figured out that writing is art and readers’ reaction to art is subjective. Opinions vary. When I get any review, I remind myself—opinions will vary.
RTW: What would it mean to you to see your book for sale in an airport terminal shop?
Mia: I’m really looking forward to this experience. I hope it happens soon and for me it’ll be a measure of success. When it happens, my friends and followers should be prepared to see pictures and selfies of me with the book. No doubt, I’ll tweet and blog about it.
RTW: Do you let other people read your writing before you submit it to a publisher or an agent?
Mia: Yes. I believe that writing is communication and I regularly ask critique partners and readers for feedback to make sure my writing conveys the message I want to get across.