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.

Meeting Times

Oct 20
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

Goal, Motivation, Conflict

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

2019 Planning Meeting

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Nov 10
2018
Wausau
10-12:00 at Marathon County Library 300 North First Street in Wausau

2019 Planning Meeting

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Nov 17
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.

WisRWA Newsletter



Romance

Promotion Thursday – September 2018

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

Helen Johannes is over at Coffee Time Romance & More sharing her writing advice.

 

 

 

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A Thinking Writer’s Love

A heart coming out of a headMany years ago, when I had published just one book, I attended an RWA conference for the first time. Of course I was awed by the many writers with long lists of books and awards, with the appropriate fame to go along. You know, the fan girl persona so many of us get at RWA events.

One of these star authors, a woman I admired for her novels and promotional accomplishments, spoke at an informal session, where several panelists were trying to define the ingredients of a good love story.  Let’s call my celebrated star Fiona, in case she’d want anonymity. The conversation snagged on the lack of  romances made into films.

“I know why,” Fiona said. “Because love happens in your brain. It’s no action movie theme.”

Then she broke into laughter. “Let me tell you a story,” she went on.  “A few weeks ago, I needed to have a new computer connection installed in my office.  The workman arrived and started crawling around on the floor under my desk.  Then the phone rang, and it was an interviewer from a major newspaper. I didn’t dare ask her to call back.  So I sat near my desk and answered her questions, all about the emotional side of love stories and how the brain is the primary sex organ.  I finished the interview and hung up about the time the workman crawled out from under the desk, his tasks completed.

“’Listen, lady,’ he exclaimed, “I don’t know about you, but my brain is definitely not my primary sex organ!’”

The entire room of romance writers erupted in raucous hilarity. You can be sure I have continued to read almost every book Fiona publishes.

But this topic is still worth considering for every story we try to write. How does an author express her characters steps along the way toward that goal we all seek, a meaningful and reciprocal relationship? The inner dialogue, the outward evidences of passion, the evocative looks of concern…we must make them come alive in the mind of the reader.  And it all happens in the brain! And must be related in words and reflected in conflicts that force those characters apart…to make life-changing choices that enable their love.  And how are those choices made? Why, in the brain of course.

A few years ago, I read five or six novels in a row that used the word frisson (French for shiver, usually a thrilling one) to describe “that” feeling. By the third or fourth time I read it, the word just irritated me.  But I think I used it once too, and I hope my readers didn’t have the same reaction.

I wonder if Fiona’s computer installer would describe the reaction of his primary sex organ as a frisson?

What do you think? Is the brain the primary sex organ in your WIP?

Victoria Hinshaw has been published since 1983. Her latest short story will be released soon in From Florida With Love: Moonlight and Steamy Nights, an anthology produced by the Southwest Florida Romance Writers, Vicky’s winter chapter. Visit Victoria at her website, at her blog or on Pinterest or Facebook at Victoria Hinshaw – Author.

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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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Fuzzy Genre: Figuring Out a Market for my Story

Write what you know, right? Then it’s only natural I’d choose psychic phenomena to weave into a plot line.

I’m fascinated by weird stuff—those who foresee the future, life after death, reincarnation. I’ve savored several psychic reading appointments in my lifetime. I’ve experienced the ‘awe’ of Long Island Medium Theresa Caputto up close at Treasure Island Casino. I’m glued to her reality television show and take copious notes. On top of this, two friends in my immediate locale actually have a psychic gift. How lucky is this, huh?

Drum roll: My romantic suspense manuscript is completed. Or is it?Romantic Suspense Silhouette of a couple

I submitted the first fifty pages and the synopsis of Roll Over, Play Dead to a publisher for a critique that I’d won at auction at the Milwaukee WisRWA conference. She liked it. Really liked it, but commented from what she’d read, I had not written a romantic suspense but more of a cozy mystery. Would I be interested in reformulating my manuscript into a cozy?

With that nibble, I said yes! And then said to myself (and others in my Chippewa Falls chapter), exactly what is a cozy mystery?

From a little research, I found it’s similar to the old Columbo television show, or to Murder She Wrote. One main character (amateur) solves the crime. Clean language for the most part. No sex.’

Ack! What? No boy meets girl with interest in his eyes? Or a psychic medium that is attracted to a hunky male cop, but her life and her goal don’t work with his? No fun under the sheets? A cop who can’t say much more than ‘darn, we lost him?’ Not realistic in my mind. Not what I enjoy reading. Not what published author Ann Simas writes. Her books are the best.

Re-writes, Peggy. Back to editing this manuscript to hone in on the growing love relationship, adding more conflict and characters, more herrings and a little sex.

There’s gotta be a fuzzy genre publisher somewhere—or a market that offers the reader an amateur sleuth who gets entangled in romance along the way.

Maybe I should ask a psychic.

Peggy StrandBy: Peggy Strand

A former reporter/editor-now retired-Peggy Strand is editing her completed romantic suspense featuring a psychic medium, a detective, and a ghost dog who gives clues like treats for humans.

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New Release Tuesday: July 2018

NewReleaseTuesday2

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

 

Book Cover for In the Assassin's Arms by Katherine Hastings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Assassin’s Arms by Katherine Hastings                  DEBUT!       

 

Book Cover for Missing Innocence by Tina Susedik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing Innocence by Tina Susedik

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Rewriting is a gift, not a chore

Rewriting is a gift - WisRWA

Two years ago I got a great gift from a friend. Robyn Peterman had struck it big with a series of wacky supernatural romances and had her own Amazon Kindle World—Magic and Mayhem—and invited me to write a series of spinoff novellas “in” that world.

It was a privilege to be associated with the authors in her world—and a blast to participate in it. The only time I’ve ever had more fun as a writer than when I was writing the first three Incompetent Witch books was when I was writing the fourth and fifth.

And then, Amazon announced it was ending Kindle Worlds.

Amazon was technically the publisher, but Kindle Worlds books could not be sold outside the U.S., and authors could not run promotions or offer print and audio book versions. Robyn generously returned all rights to her authors, though, which means I can now do all of those.

The catch? I had to remove all traces of her wonderful settings and characters. I’d only incorporated a few of her characters, opting to rely on my own in a neighboring village of my own creation. Think of how folks from Hooterville might run into the ladies of Petticoat Junction while shopping in Bug Tussle. Easy-peasy, right?

Kind of.

I made a “scrub list” and found that there was more to change than I had first anticipated. Where would my heroine Prudenzia get the advice she’d gleaned from Robyn’s Zelda? How could I rethink Robyn’s notion that bright red hair signifies a witch whose special power is to heal shapeshifters?

Since Prudenzia is The Incompetent Witch—and a failure at healing arts—I’d given her mostly jet-black locks, with strands of red here and there. I did some research and was delighted to learn that in many societies, people with red hair have long been associated with witchcraft—in general. So fixing references to red hair required only minor tweaks.

Still, there was more to do than fire up the ol’ search tool and make spot changes. I started at page 1 of Book 1 and tackled issues as they arose…and found myself doing things that should be part of any effective rewrite, such as:

  • Reassigning tasks or dialog to eliminate functionary characters who appear only briefly, making the surviving characters stronger and simplifying the story.
  • Reshaping and streamlining scenes to eliminate redundancies and pick up the pace.
  • Replacing dull words with more descriptive ones.
  • Maximizing opportunities to ramp up mystery, conflict, humor and romance.

I was surprised at some of the “mistakes” I found, since my books are professionally copy edited and proofread. Of course, I have been known to replace mistakes my editor and proofreader find with new ones. Sigh. As an indie author, of course, I’m free to make changes whenever I want to. But in the world of indie publishing, it almost always makes sense to stay focused on the future, especially if your books are selling and getting good reviews

In this case, though, Robyn—and Amazon—have given me a second gift. The chance to rewrite has reinforced familiar lessons that I’ll carry over into Book 6.

Dave Thome has written the Fast Lane contemporary romance series, The Incompetent Witch comedic supernatural romances and stand-alone books including My Fairy Dogmother (coming soon) and See You in Hell under the name DC Thome. He’s also been a newspaper reporter for a long time, had four screenplays optioned, been a presenter at the Writers Institute in Madison and a journalism instructor at Marquette University.

Image source: pxhere.com

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Creating a Hero or Heroine that Captivates Readers

A strong, vivid hero or heroine

I don’t know about you, but I read fiction for the characters and the adventure those characters go through. Like most readers, I want vivid heroes who draw me into their situations and, often when I don’t get into the main character, I put the book aside. But how do writers create those attention-grabbing heroes?

Here’s what some of my favorite writing experts have to say.

  1. First, don’t create a wimp. Follow Jack Bickham’s advice from 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. “Fiction writers too often forget that interesting characters are almost always characters who are active—risk takers—highly motivated toward a goal. Many a story has been wrecked at the outset because the writers chose to write about the wrong kind of person—a character of the type we sometimes call a wimp.”
  2. In The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, James N. Frey, a writing instructor and author, suggests that heroes have certain qualities that attract readers. Main characters must have courage. Either they start with it or they develop it along the way.
  3. Fictional heroes need to be clever and resourceful.
  4. Also, a compelling hero or heroine has a special talent. Something he or she can do better than anyone else in the story. We’re attracted to competence. We tend to pick doctors, mechanics, restaurant chefs and, yes, even fictional heroes because they perform a skill or set of skills exceptionally well.
  5. Like the previous examples, the heroine in our novels might use her unique talent to make a living and be proficient at her calling.
  6. An appealing hero is also a person who lives by his own rules. He strives to do what’s right in his mind even if others in the story don’t understand him.
  7. An effective main character is the focus of the action and the story. She must take the lead in whatever case she embraces.
  8. In Thanks, but This Isn’t For Us, Jessica Page Morrell, a best-selling author of many books on writing craft, echoes this. She says, “Heroes take charge, take responsibility, and take risks … they’re people of action who speak their minds, kick ass and take names, and, most important, who act when in real life we’d be cowering, or wetting our pants, or scrambling for an exit.”
  9. Further, she goes on to state, “Heroes dare to be wrong.”
  10. Equally important the large-and-in-charge heroine—at the center of the story, should be flawed. She or he has been wounded in the past. Perhaps he’s lost a loved one, been injured or lost his faith. He’s vulnerable and in need of healing. He has an event or a series of events in his past he’s got to work through. This brokenness fuels his current goals, makes him human and enables readers to identify with him.
  11. The hero has to grow and change throughout the story. Often, he strives to become less selfish or self-centered.
  12. She may even sacrifice herself for the good of others. Frey believes that the most compelling heroines motivated by idealism at some point in the story.
  13. Lastly, Frey suggests that the hero should be sexually potent. As Frey puts it, “Creating a mythic character without sexual energy is like bringing the burgers, the buns, and the charcoal to the barbecue, and leaving the matches at home.

I love reading stories that feature intriguing characters and I hope these tips will help you when you write your next tale. Also, if you’ve found the suggestions useful, I hope you’ll consider checking out the resources quoted in this article for further study.

  1. Sources
    Bickham, Jack M. 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. Writers Digest Bks., U.S., 1998.
    Frey, James N. The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. St. Martins Griffin, 2002.
    Morrell, Jessica Page. Thanks, but This Isnt for Us. Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2009.
    Image Source: Wikipedia

Mia Jo CelesteMia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise when she chose to pursue both careers. Recently, her novel Other Than became a double finalist in the 2018 Prism Contest in the Historical/ Steampunk and Best First Book Categories.

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Promotion Thursday – July 2018

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

 

Molly Maka will be presenting The World of the 20th Century: The First 50 Years at the RWA National Conference in Denver, CO on July 19 at 10:40 AM.

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Five Spins on Traditional Conference Advice

Logo for RWA Nationals 2018 conference

www.rwa.org

My neighbors are blowing stuff up in the cul-de-sac while my dog cowers under a chair, so that can only mean one thing: it’s July, and conference time is almost here. As the fireworks settle down and the picnic leftovers run out, romance writers everywhere are preparing (aka getting mani/pedis) to head to the annual national conference hosted by Romance Writers of America.

I’ve attended five RWA national conferences: as a wide-eyed newbie in 2013, a chapter president in 2014 and 2015, and a Golden Heart ® finalist in 2016 and 2017. Now, as I get ready to attend my sixth “Nationals” this year, with my shiny new PAN pin on my badge, I thought it would be a great time to share a few things I’ve picked up along the way.

I know. Articles about how to prepare for conferences abound. They spring up on the internet this time of year like mattress sales (what is it about patriotic holidays and selling mattresses, anyway?). So why should you keep reading this one? Well, remember how agents and editors are always saying they want “the same, but different?” This is kind of like that. I’m going to take five traditional pieces of conference advice, and add a little something different, my own little spin, collected over the five years I’ve attended Nationals.

Picture of Melonie Johnson with water bottle

Stay hydrated!

  1. Drink Lots of Water: Hotels are H2O vampires, sucking all moisture from the air, your body, hair, and soul. Well, maybe not the last one. But it sure feels like it sometimes. It is important to hydrate often. Carry a water bottle. Refill it at the stations set up in workshop rooms. My spin: if you plan to spend any time at the bar (and I hope you do, it’s one of the best parts of going to cons), pace yourself by having a glass of water between cocktails. I won’t suggest how many drinks to have, you know your own limit (mine is two, yes, it’s sad) so if the conversation and drinks end up flowing late into the night, I maintain an air of fun for myself by drinking water out of a wine glass.
  2. Carry Business Cards: You’ve followed all the advice and spent way too many hours designing the perfect business card. Now you have 500 of the darn things and can’t wait to unload them. But shoving your card at people isn’t the best way to network. My spin is to ask other people for their business cards. You’re in line for coffee or waiting for a workshop to start. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Ask them where they are from, what they write…and then ask if they have a card. Nine times out of ten, they do, and will be freaking delighted someone asked for one! And nine times out ten, they will reciprocate and ask for yours. It’s a win-win. PS: if they don’t ask for yours, you can politely offer them one, but don’t be salty about it or you’ll have lost all that feel-good networking mojo.
  3. Pack Strategically. Historical romance author Erin Knightley has a fabulous video on packing for conferences. I take it a step further and put my packing cubes inside vacuum-seal bags that suck all the air out. Why? They shrink, so I have more room in my suitcase, obvs. But also, they keep everything dry. I will never forget at my first conference, a NYT bestselling author had nothing to wear because her suitcase had been left on the tarmac in a downpour, and all her clothes got soaked, many ruined.
  4. Yes, many writers are introverts, and during the conference feel pressured to pretend to be extroverts.
    Picture of cute shoes with painted toenails

    The traditional conference pedi.

    I’m an extrovert at heart, so this isn’t a problem for me. But if talking to strangers gives you hives, don’t be afraid to use the introverts’ tried and true method of talking to strangers: the internet. Engage in social media while at the conference. Use hashtags like #RWA18 and #RITAGH to post about the conference and share fun pics or nuggets of workshop gold. And maybe you will run across fellow introverts tweeting via the same hashtags and can strike up a conversation that way (and perhaps turn that into an in-person convo at the bar?).

  5. Schedule Downtime. Introvert or extrovert, over the course of the long conference days we all, as one of my RWA roomies put it, “run out of nice.” For some, recharging batteries means escaping to a dark, quiet hotel room for a nap. For me, I like to go outside for a few minutes and get some fresh air and hopefully a bit of sunshine. Whatever gets your nice levels back up to working levels, take some “me time” and don’t feel like you have to do everything, see everyone, be everywhere.

There you have it! If you are headed to Denver, I hope to see you. Look for me at the bar, I’ll have a wine glass in my hand, and there’s a decent chance it will be filled with water.

Melonie JohnsonAward-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. Today, they live happily ever after in the magical land midway between Chicago and Milwaukee with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several year. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin. Watch for her contemporary romance debut, THE SOMETIMES IN LOVE series, coming summer 2019 from St. Martin’s Press. Melonie is represented by Pamela Harty of the Knight Agency. A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, you can visit her at at her website and find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelonieJohnson.

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New Release Tuesday – June 2018

NewReleaseTuesday2

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

 

Book Cover for Spirit Shattered by Tessa McFionn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit Shattered by Tessa McFionn

 

Book Cover for Kinky Briefs Cinque by Seelie Kay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kinky Briefs Cinque by Seelie Kay

 

The President's Wife by Seelie Kay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The President’s Wife by Seelie Kay

 

Forged Souls Saxton by Jevenna Willow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forged Souls of Amathus: Saxton by Jevenna Willow

 

 

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