WisRWA Calendar

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. Registration is now OPEN! For more information, click the Events tab and choose Workshop.
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. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners. More details to follow!

Meeting Times

Jun 09
2018
Wausau
10-12 at the Wausau Downtown Branch of the Marathon County Library (Upstairs Meeting Room)

Creating Great Characters

Join Kathryn Springer as she speaks about creating great characters in our books.
Jun 16
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Café 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

Dialogue

Writing natural sounded dialogue can be hard! Bring in some examples of good and bad dialogue and we'll discuss what works, what doesn't, and how to master writing dialogue.
Jun 16
2018
Milwaukee
11-2 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wauwatosa

Advanced Techniques to Create Stories that Resonate, and World Building

Multi-award winning author Bradley P. Beaulieu will share his techniques for how to create a story that resonates with readers. He will also share his tips and tricks for world building. A light luncheon will be served. RSVP Requested! Please email info@wisrwa.org.
Jul 11
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

GGBA Has Talent

Bring the first page of your work in progress and join us as our narrator reads each page aloud and the group gives feedback to the anonymous author!
Jul 14
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Café 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

It's All About BalanceWe all struggle with finding the time, and often the motivation, to write with all the other things that go on in our lives. Some of us have other jobs on top of our home and family obligations. Children, spouses, parents get sick or injured and need our time and attention. Committees, volunteer work, church, school, so many things can leave us drained at the end of the day. Then there are the discouraging, often depressing, things we hear about in our daily news reports. And don't forget such nonsense as #cockygate and bookstuffers! Come discuss with us how you manage to find the time and motivation to write while being pulled in so many directions.
Jul 21
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wauwatosa

Time for a Write-In!

We're getting together to WRITE! Bring your Work In Progress and join us your fellow authors as we get some writing accomplished.

WisRWA Newsletter



Writing Craft

An “Image System”— Plot or Polish for Deeper Fiction, Deeper POV

Movie directors and cinematographers work with Image Systems to deliver a story and character that entertain and offer meaning.

For those of us writing novels, creative nonfiction, memoir, and short stories, working with an “image system” can “deepen” or improve crucial aspects such as Point of View, characterization, momentum, and theme. Some writers also use an image system as a plotting tool.

Picture of a landscape with a polaroid in the middle showing perspectiveImage System tip 1:  Play with light and shadow more to create special effects and emotion.

  • Check to see if you have too many chapters or scenes starting with a sunny morning or ending with the character going to sleep.
  • Check to see how many scenes are always in the same lighting. Could you vary things more? Use more night-time scenes?
  • Does your character note the light/shadow differences as they enter buildings, rooms, alleys, and other realms?
  • How might darkness or bright light shock your character? Or scare them? Or energize them? Or bring them new knowledge?

Image System tip 2:  Create better and more accurate distance and visual perspectives, as well as sound and smell perspectives.

  • Are you monitoring and varying your close-up camera shots versus long shots?
  • What can your character really see or not from where she or he stands? Do you mistakenly describe eye color but your character couldn’t possibly see that detail from thirty yards away?
  • Smells work the same way. Your character can’t smell a bakery from twenty yards away on a busy street clogged with car exhaust. Within five feet they might be assailed by the cinnamon smell.
  • Sounds have logic as well. At how many feet or yards away do certain sounds appear for your character? How do concrete buildings in a city muffle sounds? Remember that ice, water, and air temperatures affect sounds. Readers will love it if you are accurate about these things.

Image System tip 3:  Contrasting textures signal emotions.

  • The sense of touch is a rich, strong sensation often left out of early drafts of manuscripts, except for that pivotal first touch by lovers perhaps.
  • What information does your character get via the sense of touch of other things, or even via looking at various textures?
  • What texture holds the key to their happiness? Or makes them sad or take action?
  • What texture brings your character fear? Or pain? Or soothing calmness?
  • Where does texture appear in each of your scenes and chapters? Do a “texture outline.” Movie and stage sets are filled with well-designed and chosen textures because we innately feel them as we watch; in novels, the description can take us even deeper and help us experience an emotional reaction via textures old and new.

Image System tip 4:  Interior versus exterior—create momentum. 

  • Movie directors use a constant mix of indoor and outdoor shots. They know the audience becomes bored if five or ten scenes in a row take place indoors, for example.
  • How many of your scenes take place in the interior (or exterior) all in a row or in total for your manuscript?
  • Momentum suffers when characters are in the same place for too long and too many scenes. Readers grow tired of the sameness.
  • What about novels where most or all of the action takes place in a single room? Even that can be exciting if you exploit the concept that there are quadrants in that room and each of those four sections has different values of light, shadow, color, texture, temperature, smell, sound quality, and possibly even taste differences.

Image system tip 5:  Objects matter in every story and help you sell.

  • Directors say that all movies are about the pursuit of an object.
  • In the now-classic novel Plainsong, author Kent Haruf gave teenage Victoria a red purse. What does it symbolize? Haruf did a nifty thing by giving that purse a symbolic, simple plot all its own.
  • Our own novels soar when we imbue an object with symbolism and emotion.
  • What is the object that “matters” in your story?
  • Objects with special emotional or plot meaning usually appear on the cover of a book because marketers know they resonate with readers.

Christine DeSmetChristine DeSmet is a writing coach and instructor with University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies. She also teaches an online course in novel writing. A past Golden Heart winner and finalist (3 times), her books include three in the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House) set in Door County, Wis., and the re-issued light romantic mystery novellas When Rudolph Was Kidnapped and Misbehavin’ in Moonstone (Writers Exchange Publishing).

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Know Your Whys

The word Why with lots of question marksWithout a doubt, asking who, what, where, when, how are critical to every novel. However, when it comes to your writing, “Why?” is the most important question to ask.

Asking and answering “why?” brings layers to the story. It helps us dig deeper into our characters’ motivations and perspectives. It shows how the past impacts the present. It helps us understand a character’s choices, actions, motivations. It brings meaning to a physical object.

“Why” allows us to cut a beloved sentence or scene. It leads to those “ah-ha!” moments, the surprising moments when you discover something new, unusual, or shocking about your character. In turn, you now have the perfect environment to create a moment that’s completely unexpected.

Recently, a writer friend had me read part of her manuscript. She wrote, “If I leave now, I’ll be home by three o’clock.”

This sentence stood out because I didn’t understand why it was there. What purpose does it serve? Why is getting home by three o’clock important to the story? (She never answered that within her novel.) When I asked her, she said it really didn’t have any importance. She cut it! Do you have sentences like that?

MIT professor and award-winning author, Laura Harrington, said that every word you write in your novel must have muscle. If a scene serves several purposes, even better. Always pay attention to your whys?!

Me Before You author Jojo Moyes once told me that she never regretted anything she cut, only the things she didn’t cut. Think about it: Why is this scene important?

To help you with your writing, I’ve created a WHY list of questions.  Good luck!

By: Liza Wiemer

Liza Wiemer is an award-winning educator with over twenty-five years of teaching experience. Hello?, her debut realistic contemporary YA novel, is set in Door County, Wisconsin and was published by Spencer Hill Press, NY. It was named a Goodreads Best Young Adult Novel and was on Milwaukee County Bestseller’s List for four weeks. Paste Magazine called it “one the most original novels of the year.” In addition, Liza has had two adult non-fiction books published through Random House and Gefen Publishing. Several of her short stories were included in the New York Times bestselling Small Miracles series. A die-hard Packer fan and graduate of UW-Madison, she’s married with two sons. Find her on Twitter: @lizawiemer.

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Building Sandcastles

“’I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” -Shannon Hale

When I saw this quote late last year, I didn’t realize just how much it would affect my writing from that day forward. It has, however, now become the mantra I chant when I barrel through 5,000-10,000 words a day. That simple sentence changed the way I write… and I’d like to think it’s for the better.

The first novel I wrote took a few years of on and off dabbling. When inspiration struck I wrote a paragraph here, a sentence there, until finally I typed those two magical words. The end. The feeling I had when I finished was a sense of accomplishment unlike any I’d experienced before. I wanted to go back and do it again… to feel the rush of knowing I’d done it. I’d written a novel.

So I started a new one. Again, a paragraph here, a sentence there but always waiting… waiting for inspiration to guide my hand and craft the words into something beautiful. Hours could be spent staring at that damn flashing cursor waiting for that poetic sentence to come together. It was then I saw the quote.

That night I started typing. Fast. I had the story in my head and the characters were off running. Rather than trying to find the perfect words to describe their every move and feeling, I just started pouring words onto the page like a court reporter transcribing everything I saw. I was amazed at how fast the story was unfolding, and how many more layers I could see, smell, and hear when I wasn’t distracted searching for the perfect word. Instead, I was standing inside my story in the middle of the action just scribbling as fast as I could to keep up.

When I was done that night I had typed 11,000 words. There were errors galore. The grammar police would have locked me up and thrown away the key. That road to hell paved with adverbs? I was skipping down it with a grin stretched wide across my face. But even with all the ugliness, I had created something quite beautiful. A story… or at least part of it.

The next day I did the same. Then the next, and the next. In under two weeks my entire novel was done. It wasn’t beautiful… but it was done. The skeleton and skin were laid and now it was time to go back and slap some hair and makeup on that motley looking creature. I was Professor Henry Higgins and my novel was Eliza Doolittle. Charming, but in need of a lot of refinement.

With the story sorted and the scenes set, I was shocked how easy it was to rework my sentences and find those perfect words quite effortlessly that I struggled with before. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t trying to create a story and a sentence all at once. The story was done, now I just needed to add some flourish to it.

Since changing my approach to writing, I am now writing faster than my publisher can keep up. I finished a new novel before they even had time to read the previous one. My “get ‘er done” writing style is not only more enjoyable for me since I get to throw myself into the story, but it has made me much more effective. With this new system, writing a novel is no longer a daunting mountain to climb, but more like small hills I need to jog up and down several times. It’s still the same distance in the end, just broken up into much more manageable pieces.

When I am in a scene, I’m trying my best to write sentences that flow and won’t leave me cringing when I come back through sporting my editor hat. However, when I get tripped up over a word or a phrase I ask myself “Do I need to know this right now or can I come back and figure this out later?” If it’s the latter, which it usually is, I slap down an adverb or an ugly sentence and keep on trucking.

After a particularly long stretch of writing my latest novel, I was in a fight scene and didn’t want to lose my rhythm. When I wasn’t sure how to describe my villain, I threw a sentence in that said “He’s ugly as hell. Work in ways to describe him.” That’s a direct quote. From my novel. Well, it was a direct quote before I went back and edited it to work in a very appropriate description. The point being, rather than lose my momentum by stopping to word-craft, I followed the energy of the story and came back later to pretty it up.

If you find yourself struggling to complete your manuscript, I encourage you to try this technique. Focus on writing the best you can without slamming on the brakes to obsess over what words best describe the color of your hero’s eyes. Just call them blue and move on. Later you can send us swimming in cerulean pools frozen beneath winter’s breath. Just write. Let your story unfold and follow it without delay. When you reach the finish line, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back, and then sit down in the sand you just shoveled and start building those sandcastles.

Katherine HastingsKatherine Hastings loves love. It’s why she writes romance novels. Getting lost writing a romantic adventure is one of her favorite past times. When she’s s not on an adventure in her mind with her characters, she can be found at her home in Wisconsin snuggling her husband, two Boston Terriers, and the world’s naughtiest cat. Two things make Katherine want to leave her happy home these days…going for rides on her dressage pony or floating at the beach in her big inflatable raft. Writing her novels while floating in the lake is one of her ultimate pleasures…that and Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, of course.

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An Interview with Judy Roth from Custom Editing

Before sending their manuscript out into the world, some writers choose to have their work reviewed by a freelance editor. There are several advantages to having an editor join you in the revision process.

Whether you plan on self publishing, pursuing a traditional publisher, or seeking to find an agent, hiring an editor to polish your story is a powerful tool to help present yourself in a professional manner.

After authors dedicate large amounts of time and effort to their manuscripts, it can become hard to see much-needed changes.

As an author, if you are gearing toward establishing a writing career, then working with an editor is a great step toward building a solid foundation to grow from. Not only does an editor polish your work, but you learn as well throughout the editing process.

Judy Roth, Freelance Editor HeadshotI had the privilege of interviewing Judy Roth from Custom Editing. Judy opened the doors for business in 2012. She has been writing and editing for over 20 years. With a New York publishing house background she currently works with a large and diverse group of authors covering most genres of fiction and nonfiction, publishing both traditionally and independently. She takes very seriously the privilege of working with such talented writers—novice and bestselling alike. She is also a conference and writing group workshop leader and thinks she has the best job in the world!

In this article, I have asked Judy some questions about the editing process.

Why is it important for writers to hire an editor to review their manuscript before showing it to the world?

An editor has a practiced eye. She is unbiased and works for you. She has the time, whole days of it often, to devote solely to your work. She has the experience to tell you if something is or isn’t working in a constructive manner and offer concrete examples of how it can be improved if need be. An editor is on your side. She wants you to succeed, and it is her job to help you do so.

What are the most common mistakes you see in a manuscript?

Aside from basic technical errors, I think it’s less about mistakes and more about honing our craft. It’s an ongoing process—an adventure—and a good freelance editor guides authors in this process while respecting authors’ artistic vision.

At what point in the writing process is it a good idea to hire an editor?

The traditional answer is when the manuscript is as done as possible. (When that is, is an entirely different question.) But the beauty of hiring a freelance editor who works for you is that is not always the only answer. An author might want the editor to look at the first few chapters to see if the manuscript is on the right track plot wise and/or style wise. Or, returning to the question of how the writer knows if the manuscript is finished, an editor can help determine that and if need be give suggestions for how to take the story to the next level.

RevisionsHow much time should an author expect to spend on the revision process?

This is an individual process depending on many factors. In any case, it’s important to remember the editing process is as vital as the writing process. With that in mind, try to budget enough time to ensure larger developmental edits are implemented consistently throughout and sentence and paragraph structures are varied and move the story forward. Try to avoid getting bogged down by holding on to something that isn’t working. It could be a plot point that’s dear to you but just feels off in this story. It could be that one perfect sentence that makes you laugh and cry and think deep thoughts, but you’ve moved it to ten different places, and it just no longer works. Let it go—hit delete. It’s actually quite liberating, like cleaning the basement, very satisfying once it’s done, and nine out of ten times we never miss our favorite coat from high school or our kids’ first bikes. And here is the coolest part, it’s no risk. You can hit Undo. If you take it out, you can put it back. It’s your manuscript. And a tip: Keep a separate folder for those wonderful words you have deleted but don’t want to lose. I call mine Hidden Gems. Who knows, those words may come in handy in the next story, or if not you can still go visit them, laugh and cry and marvel at your genius, whenever you want. They are your words!

What advice would you give authors going through the revision process?

Try to keep an open mind and be true to yourself. It sounds obvious, but it’s dang hard to do both at the same time, especially if you are receiving critiques.

And one very practical piece of advice is whenever you make any revision, even as small as a comma change, be sure to read not only the full sentence the revision is in but at a minimum the sentence before and after it as well.

What services do you offer authors?

I edit most fiction and nonfiction. I work with authors who want to publish independently and those who want to spruce up their manuscripts for submission. I offer several different packages of full developmental edits, line edits, and proofreading. I also offer coaching services. And I love talking with writing groups, big and small—always a blast.

What is your favorite part of being an editor?

Oh gosh, I love my job. I meet such talented writers, learn something new every day. I get to look up the most outrageous things on the Internet. Chat with authors about body fluids, who wore breeches, pantaloons, or trousers when, and the merits of an em dash—love ’em. I’m a mamma bear and being an editor I’m able to nurture without ever having to send anyone to timeout, no one gets hurt, and when all is said and done authors actually say, “Thank you.” What could be better than that?

By Lisa Romdenne (w/a Lianna Hawkins)

Lisa Romdenne has been an RWA(PRO) member since November 2014 and a WisRWA member since September 2015. Currently, she serves as President of WisRWA . She writes western romance under the pen name Lianna Hawkins and is presently working on a historical western romance series.

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The Importance of Setting

We all know there are many important elements that make up a good story. Characterization, plot, and dialogue come immediately to mind. But in doing some research, I’ve discovered I haven’t done enough thinking about Setting.

And it’s so important.

Image looking in at two people in a subway car“Setting is a conscious choice the writer makes during the pre-writing phase,” says John Galligan (author of Tools for Fiction Writers) in an article for the Mystery Writers of America newsletter. “[S]etting feeds and supports your fiction, sometimes in subtle, not evident ways.” He goes on to say that “many of the essentials of setting will show up in your first draft but many more will need to be crafted or refined during revision.”

So, what can we do to improve and use the power of Setting to enhance our work?

Galligan suggests breaking it out into its dimensions:

Place: The most obvious is, of course, where. But there’s more to that; think the whole spectrum of “big” (A city? State? Mythical world?) down to the “microscopic” (a brilliant detail). That’s what we reach for when we revise.

Time: Now we go into the “Scale of When.” Time in history? Time of year? Of life? and of course, Time of story.  We need to seek for those details, lines of dialogue, that clarify the scale of when, that ground the reader in our story.

Mood/Theme: This moves us into a more subliminal mindset. Think big picture (a disaster, maybe a tsunami). Then consider the emotions it causes: despair, loss, horror—a whole spectrum of emotions, evidenced by . . .

Woman sitting on the edge of a boat with flower garlandCharacter: Setting shapes characters in terms of who they are in the beginning of your story and who (in the storyline) they will become. It determines how they walk, talk, eat, think, react—in short, everything. And let’s not forget . . .

Pace: How your story moves from one setting to another. Perhaps your character finds herself uncomfortable—raising the tension—as you skip from one scene to another? Galligan says, “Think of a story as a finite arrangement of settings” that link dramatic actions. “Spending too much time in one and not enough in another creates imbalance and a pacing problem.”

Galligan again: “It all comes down to details and choices. We can’t describe everything.”

I’m paraphrasing here: He advocates striving for consistency, richness and economy, working across details that cross boundaries within Setting, such as describing late summer with “silver maples humming with cicadas.” This not only gives the reader a mental image but at the same time conveys information about place (where) and Mood/Theme.

Whew! Who’d have thought there was so much to consider within the broad word: Setting. I, for one, will go back into the manuscript I’m working on to see how much better it can be with just a few more (or less! Sometimes I’m wordy) detail. I want my story to give my readers so much more than just a place where something happens. I want to give them the depth and height and width that Setting can provide.

Nancy Sweetland has authored seven picture books and a chapter book mystery for young readers, along with short stories for juveniles and adults. Adult novels include The Spa Murders, The Virgin Murders, The Door to Love, WannabeThe House on the Dunes, The Countess of Denwick, and The Shopkeeper’s Secret. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin and loves to hear from readers.

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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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