WisRWA Calendar

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.

Registration is now open. Click the events tab for more information.
Nov 12
2018
NEW! WisRWA's 1st Virtual Meeting: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
WisRWA member, author, and editor Cheryl Yeko will present 'Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone,' a virtual meeting covering a variety of topics including overcoming shyness, co-writing, and working with editors/critique partners. Bring your questions and join us for some helpful tips on how we can step outside our comfort zones to get the results we're looking for!

For more information, click the calendar tab.

Meeting Times

Nov 07
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street in Green Bay

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.
Nov 10
2018
Wausau
10-12:00 at 2510 Restaurant, 2510 Stewart Ave, Wausau

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.
Nov 17
2018
Milwaukee
10-12:30 at Red Oak Writing Studio 11709 W. Cleveland Ave., West Allis, WI

Sharing Writing Hacks and Eighty-Six Its

See the calendar tab for more details.
Dec 17
2018
Milwaukee
6 PM at 2321 W Cumberland Court, Mequon, WI

Holiday Party

See the calendar tab for more details.

WisRWA Newsletter



Christine DeSmet

New Release Tuesday – August 2018

NewReleaseTuesday2

Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.

 

 

Cover for When the Dead People...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Dead People Brought a Dish-to-Pass by Christine DeSmet

 

Red River Crossing by Maxine Douglas

 

 

 

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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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New Release Tuesday – December Edition

NewReleaseTuesday2

Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.

Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.

 

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf

 

A Touchdown to Remember by Seelie Kay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Touchdown to Remember by Seelie Kay

 

The Wrong Groom by Maggie Rivers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wrong Groom by Maggie Rivers

 

Z-Bot by S.C. Mitchell Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Z-Bot by S.C. Mitchell

 

Mrs. Clause and the Moonstone Murder by Christine DeSmet cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Claus and the Moonstone Murder by Christine DeSmet

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

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

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

Nancy Raven Smith and Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben and Nancy Raven Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beignets

Beignets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

French Quarter

French Quarter

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

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

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

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

Christine DeSmet

by WisRWA member Christine DeSmet

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

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