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 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. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners. More details to follow!

Meeting Times

May 19
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wauwatosa

Chapter One Workshop

Open discussion: Christine Schimpf will lead an informal exchange between authors about the kinds of problems we all share from Time Management to POV. This is also a time when we can share our best moments and what we enjoy the most about the writing journey.

Roundtable Discussion: Bring in Chapter One or a 1500 word scene from your WIP for general feedback and encouragement from the group. This is the safest and most supportive environment for writers to find out what we are doing that's great and what we might be missing on the page.
Jun 06
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

Works in Progress Brainstorming

Have you reached a roadblock in your novel? Do you have questions about your plot? Join us as we work together to brainstorm our Works In Progress!
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

Short Stories and Anthologies

We'll be discussing the ins and outs of writing short stories and putting together anthologies. A light luncheon will be served.
Jul 04
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 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



Romance Writing

Promotion Thursday – March 2018

Promotion Thursday - October EditionIt’s Promotion Thursday for March. Check out where you can find our WisRWA authors this month.

 

Barbara M. Britton will be at The Columbus Books & Beer Book Club at the Black Kettle Pub in Columbus, WI on March 22nd at 7 p.m.

Lois Greiman will be presenting the workshop Beyond the Honeymoon with Michele Hauf at the Rosemount Writers Festival on March 24th. They will also be accepting manuscripts for critique.

Cheryl Yeko will be on Tina Blog Talk Radio on the March 13, 2018 at 3:00 PM EDT. She will also be teaching the course Your Novel’s Blue Print at SavvyAuthors from March 12-23.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Barbara Raffin

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our final author: Barbara Raffin.

Headshot of Barbara RaffinBarbara grew up a country girl on the Michigan-Wisconsin border, but loves to visit the big city and live the hurried pace now and then. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she’s created stories and adventures in one form or another for as long as she can remember. Whether a romantic romp or gothic-flavored paranormal, her books have one common denominator: characters who are wounded, passionate, and searching for love. Her books will make you laugh and cry.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

BARBARA: I wrote my first book at the age 12 — a zillion years ago. I didn’t write seriously until I was in my 30s.

It hasn’t been an easy journey to publication. I have a hard time fitting into a category. I published first in e-publishing, seeing it as the future in books, I’ve been contracted by a few small presses and am currently trying out the indie market.

Book Cover for The Visitor by Barbara RaffinWISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

BARBARA: The importance of dialogue clicked with me when I read Elizabeth Lowell’s Only Love. Prior to that, my characters talked mostly inside their heads. It was a true light bulb moment.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

BARBARA: Trust your instincts.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

BARBARA: The fifth and final book in my St. John Siblings series will be out later in 2018.

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Barbara, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant from all the entries. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Sara Dahmen

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our eighth author: Sara Dahmen.

Headshot of Sara DahmenSara lives in Port Washington, Wisconsin. She is a cookware manufacturer and metalsmith apprentice. Sara’s non-fiction book on the history and science of cookware is due out at the end of 2018, and she loves to pretend it’s 1820 and camp at outdoor rendezvous in the summer. When she’s not writing, she’s working on her House Copper cookware line, or spending time with her husband and three young children.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

SARA: My writing journey started long long ago as a child, and I’ve written stories all my life – throughout middle school, high school, and beyond. But as a professional writer, my career started in 2014 when I started self-publishing. It was self-pubbing all the way until my first novel was picked up by a publisher, re-worked, re-edited, and released as a debut and the first in a series of six books on Feb 14.

WISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

Book Cover for Widow 1881 by Sara DahmenSARA: Honestly, the thing I’ve learned the most is that our writing styles evolve as our lives, experiences, and knowledge grows and changes. Plus, having a team of editors really makes a difference. They’ll push you way out of your comfort zone, which forces you to truly figure out who you are as a writer and what your voice is…but also gives you an opportunity to look at your work and step out, leaving you a chance to create something even more amazing, if you keep an open mind.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

SARA: I’d say…keep writing. It’s a little cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true (and said so often because it IS true!). You will only get better with practice, and going over and over your words. Even reading your manuscript backwards and working on your editing and picking out words. Just keep at it. You’ll end up polishing it perfectly in the end.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

SARA: Widow 1881, the first in the Flats Junction series, just came out on Feb 14, 2018. I’m so excited because it’s filled with dozens of illustrations, maps, telegrams etc, so it’s a visually pretty book. But the next book, Smith 1865, is supposed to come out at the end of 2018 as well. Which I’m excited about because no one has really written about a female tin and coppersmith. 😊

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Sara, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant from all the entries. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Cheryl Yeko

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our seventh author: Cheryl Yeko.

Headshot of Cheryl YekoCheryl is a multi-published, award-winning author and Acquiring Editor with Soul Mate Publishing. She also co-writes with fellow Soul Mate Editor, Char Chaffin, under the pen-name CiCi Cordelia.

 

She received her Administrative Assistant Degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College, in Wisconsin, as well as a Paralegal Certification through the American Institute for Paralegal Studies. She has over twenty-five years as a Legal Assistant, involving the drafting of legal correspondence and court documents. She belongs to several writing groups, including Romance Writers of America, Wisconsin Writers Association, and Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum.

 

Cheryl lives in Wisconsin with her husband Patrick, and loves to read, play piano, and spend time with family and friends. She enjoys novels with fast-paced action and steamy romance, protective alpha men and strong heroines.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

CHERYL: I wrote my debut novel in 2011. My wonderful husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas one year, and I rediscovered my love of romance novels and decided to write one myself. I took some online classes, checked out some books from the library, and disappeared into my room over a long Wisconsin winter to write Protecting Rose. I submitted my baby to a few publishing houses and received two contract offers.

I signed with Soul Mate Publishing in 2011 and couldn’t be happier. Protecting Rose went on to win the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the Romantic Suspense category.

Book Cover for Loving a Hero by Cheryl YekoWISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

CHERYL: Trust your instincts. As a new author I felt like I had to ‘push the envelope’ to rise above the rest. Big mistake. There are some passages in my earlier novels I wish I’d never written. You need to be comfortable with what you write.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

CHERYL: Make sure you have a polished manuscript before submitting to an editor. Even if you have a good story, if the grammar, punctuation, and writing structure is a mess it’ll more than likely be rejected because of the time commitment to correct everything.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

CHERYL: Why yes, thank you for asking. 😊 I have two novels up on Amazon for pre-order right now. Loving A Hero is the 3rd book in my Hero Series. I also have The Substitute Wife by CiCi Cordelia up as well. It’s the first book in a 3-book (or more?) Historical Western Series. Char and I are very excited about it. The Substitute Wife took 1st place in the URWA 2017 Great Beginnings Contest in their Historical Category. The Dance Hall Wife, Book two, is near completion and scheduled for an October release. And book three, The Innocent Wife, is scheduled for early 2019.

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Lois, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant in the Romantic Suspense category. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

 

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New Release Tuesday – February 2018

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.

 

KinkyBriefs Quatro by Seelie Kay book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kinky Briefs, Quatro by Seelie Kay

 

WIDOW 1881 by Sara Dahmen book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Widow 1881 by Sara Dahmen

 

Book Cover for Demon Escape by MJ Haag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demon Escape by M.J. Haag

 

Book cover of Starstruck-Playing With Fire by Mary Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands by Mary Hughes

 

Book Cover for Love With a Side of Crazy by Tina Susedik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love With a Side of Crazy by Tina Susedik

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Casey Clifford

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our sixth author: Casey Clifford.

Headshot of Mary Jo ScheiblI’ll admit it. I’m one of those writers “who’s been writing forever.” Would you believe me if I say maybe I started about age 5? Well, I did, and received encouragement from my parents and grandparents. By age 10 or so, I was writing “plays” for the neighborhood kids to enact so their parents could brag. Gosh, I expect some of those families still have fuzzy home movies of those events.

Since I proudly acknowledge I’m published in fiction, I admit it took me 50 some years to attain that status.  What took so long? Well, life and the need to make a living.

Once I retired from teaching, I put serious effort into marketing what I had written and revised over summers between semesters, along with writing new material. After listening to my husband saying, “you have to spend money to make money,” I achieved “almost instant” success by accepting a contract–6 years after retirement. During those 6 years, I was “almost there” many times. Then something totally out of my control made the contract possibility dissolve faster than ice in August. Sound familiar?

As my hubby would often tell me in those years, one way to be a sure-fire failure was to quit writing.  I didn’t give up. I kept writing my stories always looking to improve my craft and skills with each finished manuscript.  Along the way, I’ve learned a few things I know helped me finally land that contract–hold my published book, Black Ribbon Affair, in my hand, and wept with joy when that book won several awards, especially the HOLT MEDALLION for best first book of the year.

Since that first book, I published a second romantic suspense with my publisher Wild Rose Press.

After those two books, I realized what I wrote was what I termed Wise Women Fiction, and my books didn’t fit well with Wild Rose’s guidelines. Independent publishing was emerging about that time, and I decided to take that plunge. I couldn’t have done so had I not learned about the orderly steps and work required to publish a good book. I thank my Wild Rose editor for that. I have published 9 books independently. They have won awards or been finalists in contests.

This biography leads to one of the items I’ve been asked to address for this blog:

  • What proved to be a lightbulb moment and is still relevant for me as a writer.

My answer?

  • Writing a great story is only a part of what makes a book successful. Once that tough job is done, you can’t skimp on the following points. Every book, published or not, requires them–so fight to achieve them.
  1. Set a schedule for writing that works with your daily life—and commit to it.
  2. Edit, edit, edit—after your last revision for content.
  3. Choose a title that grabs a reader but still reflects the storyline.

Since this is a blog aimed primarily for unpublished writers, I’ll expand a bit on each of the above items.

  1. I mentioned I wrote in the summer when I wasn’t teaching. That was my commitment to sitting in the chair, fingers at the keyboard or holding a pen. Except for the 2 weeks of vacation/family time, I wrote 3 hours a day for no less than 3-4 days of each week–no matter the heat or the urge to read a book all day. My primary goal at that time wasn’t publication so much, but researching, organizing a timeline, developing character sketches, and then writing the best book I could—to learn from it. Sometimes I edited, and sometimes I just wrote the rough draft straight-through. It depended on the story and how the writing was going. BUT I WROTE. And still had a demanding daily life.
  2. Editing/revision is the process of polishing the rough draft. If you are entering a contest, revise and edit your submission to make it the best it can be. Consider not only the grammar and spelling, punctuation, and sentence fluency, but also the writing elements of setting, character development, description, plot movement, what the submitted pages have to do to meet the requirement of good writing and story-telling. Only in that manner will you make your entry shine for its judges–or an editor should you decide to submit it to one.
  3. Ask someone who doesn’t know your story and reads a lot to read your pages. Listen to any concerns or comments they have about your work. This is especially helpful in catching/correcting plot problems, or awkward sentences, or even a detail that contradicts earlier ones.
  4. Finally, when a contest entry/submission is returned, and you do or don’t like the score, read the comments. And maybe, read them again, for they may contain just the pieces of wisdom that will help you strengthen your writing, your story, your personal growth as a writer. Maybe it will take you a week or more to gather the courage. But these comments are learning tools. This can be difficult sometimes, especially if a judge/editor doesn’t get your story. Or maybe is just a really mean judge.

 

Book Cover for Better than Dessert by Casey Clifford

But even from those situations, a writer can learn a valuable lesson. In the former, perhaps the opening, title, or category entered led the judge to expect something other than what you wrote. How can you be sure that doesn’t happen again? In the latter example, consider the mean criticism as a step to strengthen your tough, professional armor. Every writer, published or not, will encounter negative criticism. Learn from it. Ignore it.

Don’t let it keep you from writing—or learning.

Which leads me to the final element we are asked to address: What is one piece of writing or industry advice I can offer you. So here it is: Trust your instincts. Listen to your gut about your writing.

  • This is especially true for “newbie” writers who read every article, listen intently at every workshop, read the latest expert’s book promoting a “sure-fire” writing technique that works for everyone. Well, do these techniques work for you? Maybe yes. Maybe not at this time or for this project. Maybe never. And that’s okay.
  • So, you’re working on a project and things aren’t going well. You want to go one way with the character, but the character has a different idea. Been there? What do you do… Listen to your characters, especially if you see the sense of what they’re telling you. Strong characters will talk with you. Sometimes they even shout at you—so LISTEN!
  • Finally, if you hate what you’re writing, sometimes it’s best to walk away—until a later time. Often, the project needs more thought or research. Perhaps you need a simpler story to tighten your writing skills. If the project is good, take an hour away, a week, or maybe a year—to mull over the problem. Or perhaps write another less complex project that gives you more experience and insight as a writer. However, listen to your gut–keep writing something.

Fab 5 Contest BadgeI hope you, 2018’s Fab 5 entrants, find bits of wisdom in the above comments. I’ve learned them from other writers and from life. I write because the stories in my heart and the ideas in my head must land on a printed page. I urge you to understand WHY you write. This knowledge will push you always to do your best.

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Casey, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant in the Women’s Fiction category. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Lois Greiman

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our fifth author: Lois Greiman.

Headshot of Lois GreimanUSA Today bestselling author, Lois Greiman, was born on a cattle ranch in central North Dakota where she learned to ride and spit with the best of them. After graduating from high school, she moved to Minnesota to train and show Arabian horses.

She sold her first novel, a historical romance, in 1992 and has published more than fifty titles since then, including romantic comedy, children’s stories, and her fun-loving Christina McMullen mysteries. A two-time Rita finalist, she has won such prestigious honors as Romantic Times Storyteller Of The Year, MFW’s Rising Star, RT’s Love and Laughter, the Toby Bromberg for most humorous mystery, and the LaVyrle Spencer Award. Her heroes have received K.I.S.S. recognition numerous times and her books have been seen regularly among the industry’s Top Picks!

With more than two million books printed worldwide, Lois currently lives on a small farm in Wisconsin with her family, some of whom are human.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

LOIS: I started writing as a kid…like most of us. But I became serious about becoming published way back in the 80’s. Long before digital publishing was even a techy’s wild dream. Because traditional publishing was the only game in town, I wooed the major houses for several years before Avon Books bought my first historical romance. Since then I’ve sold about 30 others to Avon (Harper Collins), several books to Harlequin, and a few to Berkley and Kensington before beginning writing my Chrissy McMullen mystery novels for Random House. I continue to write funny mysteries about Chrissy, the crazy psychologist, but I am currently self publishing Book Cover for Unhinged by Lois Greimanthem.

WISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

LOIS: Writing, I learned early on, is not for the faint of heart. It’s not an easy way to make a living. Most of us don’t make barrels of money, and the life style can be rather isolated. So if you don’t truly love it, it’s probably not worth the effort it takes to become published. But if you really enjoy the journey, there’s nothing quite like sitting around in your pajamas all day and creating a universe around characters who become as real to you as your aunt Martha.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

LOIS: Don’t let yourself get discouraged. No matter how it seems, this business is difficult for everyone…or almost everyone. Write what you love. Hang in there. And believe in yourself.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

LOIS: My next Chrissy novel, as of yet untitled, will be released in June.

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Lois, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant in the Inspirational category. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

 

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Tessa McFionn

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our fourth author: Tessa McFionn.

Tessa McFionn Author HeadshotTessa is a very native Californian and has called Southern California home for most of her life, growing up in San Diego and attending college in Northern California and Orange County, only to return to San Diego to work as a teacher. Insatiably curious and imaginative, she loves to learn and discover, making her wicked knowledge of trivial facts an unwelcomed guest at many Trivial Pursuit boards.

When not writing, she can be found at the movies or at Disneyland with her husband, as well as family, friends or anyone who wants to play at the Happiest Place on Earth. She also finds her artistic soul fed through her passions for theatre, dance and music. A proud parent of far too many high school seniors and two still living house plants, she also enjoys hockey, reading and playing Words with Friends to keep her vocabulary sharp. She is currently the President Elect of the San Diego chapter of Romance Writers of America and loves spending time working with such amazingly intelligent and creative writers.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

TESSA: Wow. I think like most authors, I first started writing when I was in elementary school. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering with some story throughout the whole of my life. But, with regards to serious writing, I began my first novel, Spirit Fall, about eight years ago. I was standing on a ledge, looking over a very high bridge, and the world of my heroes was born in that moment. I worked on Spirit Fall for about two years, then on a virtual shelf, it sat. It sat for another Book Cover for Spirit Fall by Tessa McFionntwo years before I had the courage to send it out. Since then, I have three books in the Guardian Warriors series, with a fourth in the hands of my editor.

WISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

TESSA: Aside from no work is ever truly done? Actually, the best lightbulb moment happened at one of our RWA chapter meetings. The speaker was Angela James and she was giving a talk on what to do before hitting submit. Her advice was to read, or listen, to your manuscript. Brilliant! I have now listened to the mechanical computerized voice read passionate scenes for all my projects and boy, does it make a huge difference in edits.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

TESSA: Never give up. If you have stories to be told, tell them. And don’t count the number of rejections. It only takes one “yes” to change your entire life.

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

TESSA: I do. I’m fortunate to have found a wonderful new publisher who will be bringing my science fiction world to life in March. Book one, entitled To Discover a Divine, hits the shelves on March 20. This has been a true labor of love, and along with sci-fi, they will also be publishing a couple of short stories before the end of 2018. Also, the fourth book in my Guardians series is slated to be released sometime in the summer.

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Tessa, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant in the Young Adult/New Adult category. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

 

 

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The Biggest Book Club in the World!

Authors dressed in Hippie Theme for Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend WeekendWe all talk about book clubs as if they are one of the arteries of writers. And guess what? They are! Without book clubs, there’d be fewer forums (in person or online) to create a reading environment. Without book clubs, there would be less people reading in general. Without book clubs, there’d be no homegrown, grassroots way to get a following.

This was the second year I attended the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Nacogdoches, Texas hosted by creator and founder Kathy Murphy, the ultimate book club queen and founder of the PQs.

Because most of us who belong to WisRWA live north of the Mason-Dixon line, this club and the Girlfriend Weekend event is not well-known (yet!). The Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys is the biggest book club in the world, citing over 750 chapters internationally, and thousands of members.

As an author, attending the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend is outrageously awesome. Hundreds of readers pile into a big ballroom, and they actively want to hear about your book, your process, the backstory and what makes you and your book tick. The best part? It didn’t end after my speech and panels. You interact constantly with dedicated readers all weekend long, and several end up on my Christmas card list.

Sara Dahmen and Jamie Ford at the Big Ball of Hair BallWhile we Wisconsinites tend to be a little more reserved, the ladies in the south are fabulous at getting dressed up for any occasion. Each night of the event had a themed party, and the costumes were bigger and better as the weekend went on. The extra cherry on top turned out to be the personal relationships I made with fellow authors. I personally was in awe of most of them, and they were so welcoming, warm, and kind both during and after the event. Authors from around the nation and the globe attend, spending time with one another and readers alike, with fantastic keynote speakers from bestselling and local, small or first-time authors. Kathy Murphy, while selective of her reading list, is wonderful about supporting authors from the first book to their 30th, and celebrates them all the way. It is eye-opening and touching and overwhelming.

I walked away this year with more contacts, a renewed respect for what goes into coordinating a big book club bash, and rejuvenated from seeing wonderful author friends once more. Plus, seeing readers from other years, connecting with new ones, other first time authors, and wonderful established ones.

So, what’s the moral of this blog post? Book clubs rock. They’re meant to connect readers with words, and the words are yours. Make them count, connect with people through them, and create relationships. It’s a serious and real way to touch the people holding your books, to let them get a peek into who you are, why you write, and how you write. Let your inner passion for your work shine and blast onto them. Let them feel that glow, and they’ll likely fall a little more in love with your book because of it. And if that gives joy, that’s all the better.

The Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend event is always in January, so check your calendars for 2019 and consider a road trip to East Texas. If you want to read more about Kathy Murphy and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, here are three links:  the first one is titled “Three Questions with the Founder of the World’s Largest Book Club,”,  and the second (and most recent) one is a feature article from the November 29, 2017, issue of Parade Magazine. For general information, check out www.beautyandthebook.com.

P.S. 2019’s theme is How the West Was Won. Imagine the costumes….

Sara Dahmenby Sara Dahmen

Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Widow 1881, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at sara@saradahmen.com.

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Fabulous Five Contest Author Critique: Jennifer Trethewey

The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our third author: Jennifer Trethewey.

Jennifer is an actor-turned-writer who has moved her performances from the stage to the page. In 2013 she traveled to Scotland for the first time, where she instantly fell for the language, humor, intense sense of pride, and breathtaking landscape. Her love for Scotland was translated into her first series of historical romance novels, the Highlanders of Balforss. The sexy, adventurous first book of the series, Tying the Scot, released in November 2017.

WISRWAHow long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

JENNIFER: I’ve been writing performance pieces for the stage since 1997 but I started writing romance novels in earnest in 2013. I had two personal discoveries and two big boosts on my journey to publication. The first discovery was that I didn’t know what I was doing. The second was that there were people out there who did know what they were doing and were happy to share their knowledge with me. The two big boosts came from the facilitators and members of Red Oak Writing Studios (where I learned buckets about writing) and from RWA and WisRWA where I learned how to craft a romance novel, found an agent, and then found a publisher. WisRWA meetings, members, workshops, conferences, retreats all helped me to find my way and they continue to help me learn and grow. That’s why it’s so important to me to give back.

 

Tying the Scot by Jennifer TretheweyWISRWAWhat is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?

JENNIFER: I realized early on that the more a critical remark bothered me, or raised my hackles, or just plain hurt, the more I needed to sit up and pay attention because that was the bit I was most insecure about, that was the weakest link. When I relaxed, listened, and made an adjustment, the writing always improved.

WISRWAWhat is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?

 

JENNIFER:

 

Read in your genre, follow blogs that share writing advice, read craft books, get a critique partner or critique circle, and take as many workshops online and in person as you can afford. In other words, keep seeking knowledge.

 

WISRWAAny new books coming out in the near future?

 

JENNIFER: Entangled Publishing, Amara, will release my second novel in the Highlanders of Balforss series, Betting the Scot, on April 23rd.

Fab 5 Contest Badge

 

 

For a chance to win a detailed critique by Jennifer, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant in the Historical category. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.

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