WisRWA Calendar

Mar 01
2018
Last Day to Enter Fabulous Five Contest
March 1, 2018 at 11:59 PM CST is the last day the Fab Five Contest will accept entries. Entries cap at 35 entries per category and all entries received after the deadline will be returned.

For more information: http://wisrwa.org/contests/contest-fab-five/
Oct 06
2018
WisRWA 2018 Fall Workshop
Mark your calendars for the 2018 Fall Workshop on October 5-6, 2018 at the Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort, Rothschild, WI. For more information, click the Workshop tab.
Apr 05
2019
WisRWA 2019 Write Touch Conference
Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. More details to follow!

Meeting Times

Feb 17
2018
Milwaukee
9-11:30 AM; Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level), 2500 N Mayfair Rd, Wauwatosa

Wonderful Word Workshop Hosted by Milwaukee Area member, Tricia Quinnes

Get ready to write! We'll have a write-in day with sprints and brainstorming help as needed.
Mar 07
2018
Green Bay
11:30-2:00; 1951 West, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

How to Write a Series

Green Bay Area member, Lily Silver will share her process on how to write a successful series.
Mar 10
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30; Deb’s Café, 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

Fear of Writing and Publishing: Success and/or Failure

Is fear holding you back from realizing your dream? Are you afraid of the writing/publishing process, afraid of failing after all your best efforts, or, yes, even afraid of actually succeeding? Then this discussion is for you.
Mar 10
2018
Wausau
10:00 - 12:00; Marathon County Library, 300 North First Street, Wausau WI

The Nitty Gritty Down & Dirty – Truth About Writing the Break-out Block-Buster Novel

A fun guide to plotting: Why start from scratch and reinvent storytelling? This workshop is a guide that reveals the structure and elements in huge bestsellers. We will see how successful authors break out by satisfying readers’ needs.
Mar 17
2018
Milwaukee
11:00-2:30; Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level), 2500 N Mayfair Rd, Wauwatosa

Get Ready to Indie!

WisRWA Member, Nicolette Pierce will share details about self-publishing. Find out if self-publishing is right for you, when to know if you're ready and many more things surrounding this type of publishing.
Apr 10
2018
Wausau
10:00 - 12:00; Marathon County Library, 300 North First Street, Wausau WI

Write Your First Draft Fast and Finish Your Book Now!

Valerie Clarizio has co-authored and ghostwritten more than 100 nonfiction books for doctors, therapists, and professional speakers. Learn some of her tips and tricks to make use of your precious writing time and get your novel completed.

WisRWA Newsletter



Writing Craft

FOCUS When Writing Your Short Story

Girl sitting cross legged, typing on her laptopAs the author of twenty-three short stories ranging from 3,000 to 40,000 words that have been published over the last seven years, I am often asked “Is there really a market for short stories?” The answer is YES – and that market is growing! (By the way, I’m going to use the term “short story” throughout this piece to describe any story under 50,000 words. There are more technical terms, such as novella and novelette, but we won’t get into that today.) There is a growing market for short stories as more people are looking for a story they can read in an hour or two. They want to read a full story all at once when they have some spare time—not read a chapter today, find themselves too busy to read for a week, and then try to pick up with chapter two. Enter the short story. Not only are there dozens of indie publishers out there publishing short stories of various lengths, but traditional publishing houses are jumping on the bandwagon as well. Hachette, Avon, and Harlequin all have imprints that publish these fun-sized romances.

We’ve established that there is a growing market for short stories. But why should you write one? If you’ve never published before, I think short stories are a great place to start. When I first started writing, I tried and failed to finish numerous full-length romances. However, the first time I tried my hand at writing a short story, not only was I able to complete it, but it was accepted for publication! Short stories are a great way to build your self-confidence while you develop your writing style on a smaller scale. For published authors, there are a number of reasons to write short stories as well.

The word focus next to a magnifying glass

  • Struggling with your current novel or feeling a bit of writer’s block? Take a break to write a short story and come back with a fresh view. This can also be a great technique to “get away” from your completed novel before diving in to editing.
  • It’s a great way to keep momentum going between novels and keep your name fresh in people’s minds. Instead of waiting two or three years for your next book, they can read your short stories in the interim so they don’t forget about you.
  • Short stories are great for free reads and giveaways. Maybe there’s a deleted scene from your last novel that you think your fans would love, or maybe a side adventure (or backstory) for one of your characters. Put it in a short story as a gift to your readers!

Writing a short story is different from writing a full-length novel. My best advice is to think FOCUSED when writing a short story. You’re not giving your readers a distant view of a forest; give them a detailed view of one tree. Many authors make the mistake of thinking “short” or “simple” and get unsatisfying results with their short story. Sure, I could retell Titanic in 10,000 words, but it’s going to read like a Wikipedia page, not a love story. You need to FOCUS on one part that still tells a story—such as Jack and Rose having a horrible dinner together with the upper-class folk before escaping to dance the night away.

When writing a short story, you just don’t have the time or space to flesh out complex internal and external conflicts and resolve them in a way that’s satisfying to readers. For Happily Ever After stories, your characters have probably met previously; it’s less believable if your characters meet, fall in love, and get married in 5000 words. If your characters are meeting for the first time, you’re probably writing a Happy For Now story. You are going to have few, if any, secondary characters; these characters do not get their own plots in short stories. FOCUS on the romance, less on the external conflict or other characters. Be selfish and put your couple in the spotlight; let them steal the show! I once heard that if a novel is a journey, a short story is an experience. Go start your experience today!

 

Kayla Bain-VrbaBy: Kayla Bain-Vrba

Kayla Bain-Vrba has been living in daydreams ever since she was a little girl and writing about them for as long as she can remember. It was her discovery of m/m romance that inspired her first published work at age nineteen. When she’s not writing—or is procrastinating writing—Kayla enjoys spending time with her other half, crafting, and planning things to a tee.

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Don’t Be Ordinary: A Look at Creativity

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
William Blake by Thomas PhillipsAnd a heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an Hour

William Blake (1757-1827) (English poet, painter and engraver) is one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism. He emphasized individual, imaginative, visionary and emotional creativity. He privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. He declared in one poem, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.”

When I was a teenager my father gave me the talk. Not the one on sex, the one on being an individual. I remember his words like he spoke them yesterday and I am sure I might have dared to roll my eyes like my daughters did when I gave them the same speech. “If your friends jumped off the roof, would follow them? Be an individual, be unique, and do what you think is best for you.” I’m not sure he didn’t regret these words at some time in his life because I took them literally and have never followed the crowd.

What I get from Blake’s thoughts is that you should create what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing a story, picking up a paint brush, taking photos, creating quilts, putting together culinary delights, etc. Creativity is the key. Learn who you are. Do something that makes you unique. Don’t mindlessly follow the crowd. After you are gone, it will be your legacy – an inheritance Be creativefor your children and friends.

I grew up in a home where artistic talent was everywhere. My mother was not only an award-winning oil painter, but taught herself to play the organ, and also sewed and did needle work. My daughter Kellie inherited her painting talent. Having their artwork proves Blake’s theory. They are no longer with us, but their essence is. I take great comfort in that.

When I make a personalized quilt, each one grows from my own creativity. I can’t explain the joy I receive in making them and then hearing the squeal, feel the hug, or see the happy tears when they are received. Six of my Paradise Pines Series stories and five of my stories in my Northwoods Series are published, and there are five more to come. Now that I have books published, I have a second contribution to romanticism. I love that word now that I know what it means. I’m searching for more ways to continue doing it.

 

AP_KirkpatrickAn RWA member for almost eighteen years and WisRWA member for three, Marlene Urso (w/a Paisley Kirkpatrick) is published in historical romance. She lives in Lincoln County with her husband. She served as event coordinate for Sacramento Valley Chapter for thirteen years, which included setting up monthly meetings and welcoming members to the meetings. She has been a member of several online chapters, including From the Heart where she’s been membership chair for the last fourteen years. She is getting acquainted with the Wausau area chapter members and enjoys the monthly meetings. Marlene has always enjoyed doing volunteer work because it gives her a chance to give back to the industry that helped her to achieve her dream of being a published author.

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Get Ready to Submit with Cheryl Yeko

Cheryl YekoMilwaukee WisRWA member Cheryl Yeko will be at the October meeting to work with participants on GETTING READY TO SUBMIT! This is a hands-on workshop, so bring your query letter draft, summary, synopsis, author bio, elevator speech, and pitch. We will work on tightening up the elements needed to make your novel sound publish-worthy. Cheryl is Senior Acquiring Editor at Soul Mate Publishing and accepts submissions for Romantic Suspense, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Erotica. Jennifer Rupp, Milwaukee area contact, asked her a few questions about her work.

JENNIFER: As an editor, what is your biggest pet peeve?

CHERYL: First, I love being an editor, but I guess the thing that bugs me the most is when I receive a submission that doesn’t follow the formatting guidelines. That’s one more step I have to take to get the manuscript in reading order. Or worse yet, they just copy and paste the submission into the email itself.

JENNIFER: Do you ever say, “Yes! This is the one,” after reading the first line of a query letter?

CHERYL: No. The query letter may grab my attention enough to ask for a submission. But it’s really the synopsis, and first chapter of the manuscript that sells the story (or not).

JENNIFER: Are there any particular tropes that you love or hate?

CHERYL: The misunderstanding trope is not my favorite. You can have misunderstandings in a manuscript, but that isn’t enough to carry the entire story, in my opinion. I love the secret baby trope. {I know, right? Don’t tell anyone.}

JENNIFER: When you meet someone at a pitch session, what are you really looking for?

CHERYL: I’m looking for a good story. Pure and simple. I assume whomever is pitching knows how to write. I don’t care if they pull out a cheat sheet and read their pitch to me. It’s all about the story.

JENNIFER: You work for Soul Mate. Did you have to submit a query letter to get your books accepted?

CHERYL: Only for my first book, PROTECTING ROSE. Now I just let Debby (my editor and owner of SMP) know I have a manuscript and send it over for her to take a look at. She’s never turned one of my books down yet . . . knock on wood.

WISRWA: If you didn’t work in the publishing industry, what would you like to do?

CHERYL: Retirement maybe? 😊 I love my work with Soul Mate Publishing and don’t want to do anything else. Besides being an author myself, and Acquiring Editor, I’m also the Cover Art Coordinator, where I get to work with all the amazing artists to make our book covers rock, as well as create the monthly newsletter, and handle all their social media promotions.
I wouldn’t change a thing!

by: Jennifer RuppJennifer 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.

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Chippewa Falls Area April Meeting – Strengthening Our Words

Join the Chippewa Falls area for the April meeting on Strengthening Our Words for Better Story Writing. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.

WisRWA's Chippewa Falls Area April Meeting

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Revisions: Tips to Polish Your WIP

RevisionsIt’s hard, yet it’s the difference between a sale and “not for us.”

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.

Mia Jo Celesteby: 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.

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Chippewa Falls February Meeting – Revisions from Hell

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.

February Chippewa Falls Meeting - Revisions from hell

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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

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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.

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