WisRWA Calendar

Jun 20
2019
VIRTUAL MEETING: Cops & Robbers - How to Write Accurate Law Enforcement in Fiction
RSVP Required! Please visit the calendar tab for more information and to RSVP.

Retired Lieutenant Matthew Dietzler served as a police officer in both the New Berlin and Grand Chute, Wisconsin departments. With 20 years in law enforcement, he can spot both accurate and unrealistic portrayals of policing in fiction.

After the presentation by Retired Lieutenant Deitzler, there will be time for individual questions.

Meeting Times

Jun05
2019
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 Restaurant, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay, WI

Promotion

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Jun08
2019
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Cafe, 1120 122nd St, Chippewa Falls, WI

Tools for Series Writing

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Jun15
2019
Milwaukee
10 – 12:30 at Red Oak Writing Studio 11709 W Cleveland Ave. West Allis

Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity

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Jul10
2019
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 Restaurant, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay, WI

The Publishing Process

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Jul13
2019
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Cafe, 1120 122nd St, Chippewa Falls, WI

Topic TBD

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WisRWA Newsletter



Writing Craft

How Attending the WisRWA Write Touch Conference was like Writing a Romance Novel

Everywhere I looked, a potential story scene loomed. Who was she meeting in that corner room? Why is she rocking out in front of everyone with her happy dance? That’s what attending the Write Touch Conference did to me. It inspired me to be creative and share my tales through the power of the written word. To paraphrase conference speaker and author Lisa Cron, we are wired to share stories.

I attended the Write Touch Conference to become a better writer. Like a sponge, I soaked in as much information as I could. I learned about story beats and crafting a scene. Marketing tips flowed freely from the speakers. Personal stories from beginning and accomplished authors on their path to publication uplifted me.

Being a novice, I’m still learning the basic elements of writing a novel. So, I’m plunging headfirst into romance novel plot points, using the #writetouchconference as my guide. With the plot structure adapted from Priscilla Oliveras‘s Gale Online Course, I’ve developed a story outline that incorporates some of the conference highlights.

The Characters

Conrad Hastings. He graduated from college a few decades ago, never took a creative writing course, and fell asleep numerous times reading Wuthering Heights. An unlikely romance novel writer.

Ms. Write Touch Conference. Teacher extraordinaire, romance professor, and connoisseur of fine wines. Heroine of all heroines. Motto: Dare to be Decadent.

Tara Fischer. Nicer than the girl next door, she wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. The logical love interest for Conrad, she won’t get in the way between a writer and his muse.

The Hook

Reaching his mid-life crisis at full throttle, Conrad must write an entertaining novel to impress Tara or risk losing her to the sexy Scottish Highlander literary heroes (once she’s gone kilt, she’ll never come back).

Romance Plot Outline

Opening/Inciting Incident

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

Conrad has heard that phrase before, but it especially stung when it came from his friend Tara. A voracious reader, she could not look into his eyes. He’s asked her for an honest review of his novel, but he sensed her hesitation to tell the plain truth. He knew. He’s known all along. His writing sucked and he needed help.

Tara slid her smart phone across the restaurant table, opened to the WisRWA conference web page. No words were needed. He realized he has to attend.

The Meeting

Conrad cautiously stepped through the Hyatt vestibule, his senses overwhelmed with the busy lobby. But there she was – she could not be missed. Plastered on placards and a large wall, Ms. Write Touch Conference welcomed all writers.

Conrad nearly jumped out of his shoes from the slight tap on his shoulder. He turned around to gawk at the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.

“Welcome,” Ms. Write declared with a large grin, “I’m so happy you could attend.”

More enduring than advertised, she promised to guide him throughout the day. She suggested attending both writing and publishing/marketing events. Conrad was already smitten before the conference sessions even began.

Development (Intimacy Grows)

Day One lived up to the hype. Literary agents Courtney Miller-Callihan, Kimberly Brower, and Laura Zats talked about the current state of publishing and offered insights into new trends and possibilities. Editors Jennie Conway and Madeleine Colavita and Author Becca Puglisi offered constructive criticism to authors wanting a fresh and resplendent start to their novels.  Authors Angela Ackerman, Mel Jolly, and Angie Stanton provided ideas to find his audience and connect with them. The indelible and genuine Lisa Cron taught an all-day, intensive writing course on crafting the irresistible novel. Conrad felt his confidence grow, knowing even published writers had obstacles to conquer on their journey to success.

Conflict

Yet, he did not have Ms. Write’s full attention. She guided other aspiring and veteran writers through the smorgasbord of conference offerings. Night One’s special: An Evening with Daring and Decadent Girls. He wished he could be there to share in the fun, but family commitments came first. Will missing the evening adventure derail his novel?

Happy Times

Day Two was just as dazzling as the first day. Authors Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi, Valerie Biel, Mel Jolly, Amy Reichert, Lisa Cron, Angie Stanton, and Bobbi Dumas discussed novel writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Keynote Speaker Maya Rodale spoke about writing the right story. He was given the tools to be successful. It was up to him to apply them, but fortunately inspiration was as close as the titillating glass elevator. He now had the perfect setting for writing a sex scene.

Conflict Crescendos

Guilt washed over Conrad’s face, stuck on the outside, looking in. There Ms. Write was again, center stage in the best restaurant with the best view, basking in glory as the sun set upon downtown Milwaukee. He had to go home early, while she regaled the writers with Daring Dialogue and Decadent Prose. Does she even miss him?

Misery or Big Black Moment

Why did he even want to write a novel? A great friend, Tara will always like him, even if his head-hopping scenes and verb conjugation made her dizzy. Ms. Write was there to provide the tools for a successful career and to provide guidance, support, and encouragement for his writing journey. He’s got the support, but he searched for motivation.

It’s simple – he wanted to share his stories and donate any proceeds to his favorite charities.

Resolution

At breakfast, in-between sharing bites of bacon with his dog, he realized he does not have to be jealous of Ms. Write. She favored no one, but supported everyone. She wanted all authors to succeed.

He made a promise. In two years’ time, he will reconnect with Ms. Write Touch Conference. She will be impressed. So will Tara.

By T. Ganfield

Tom Ganfield is working on his first novel, Chasing Chestnut, with younger versions of Conrad and Tara. As a dog lover, he is trying to position Chestnut (the dog) to steal scenes and the hearts of his characters (and maybe the readers?).

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Combat Writer’s Block with an Idea Factory

If you’ve ever experienced the heaviness of writer’s block, you know you’ll never want to stare at a blank page, without an idea, ever again, period.

Let’s learn from the bad times and turn them into something good. Here are a few tips I use to build an idea factory, when writer’s block may hit again.

Collect ideas as they flow. You may be on vacation, at a restaurant, in bed at 2 a.m., and plot ideas, conversations, scenes, and characters are falling at your feet. Write them down right away! Grab a pad of paper, record thoughts on your voicemail, send yourself an email or text. Don’t let those great ideas slip away. You’re a writer, those ideas are interesting to you, they will be interesting to your readers.

For example, I was filling my soda cup at a fast food restaurant when a young girl stepped up next to me. The way she moved with grace and confidence reminded me of the main character of a story I was working on. I went back to my table and recorded my observations, her hair color, the way she moved, how she dressed.

Here’s another example. I was at an art museum and a strange exhibit captured my attention. The folk-art I studied that day became the background of a story. I hurried to the museum coffee shop to write down the essence of the exhibit. What attracted me to it. How I felt about it. How it looked. Then I searched websites for more information. I still have those notes and refer to them as I edit.

Eavesdrop. When you hear an interesting conversation, tune your ear to the cadence of the discussion. Everyone knows that one person who uses unique turns of phrase, or thinks differently than anyone else. Channel them the next time you are stuck in a rut and need to add new patterns to your dialog.

Seek your characters in magazines, newspapers, or the internet as you move through your day. Cut pictures of your characters out of department store ads when you find them. Download photos. Hang them on a wall where you write, along with their bios.  When you need inspiration, take a good long look at the pictures again.

Watch for situations that are stranger than fiction. What happened to your co-worker, neighbor, children? Does your friend have a litany of stories about her bad dates? Ask her if you can borrow some for your next book.

Immerse yourself in research. Search websites for more information about the setting of your story. If it’s set in a Victorian era home, tour one near you. Record your impressions.

Ask questions. When you find someone knowledgeable about the subject of your book, like that historic home, talk to them. When they go on a tangent, follow it by asking questions. They’ll likely bring up a tidbit of information no one knows about, but it would be perfect for your story. Maybe there was a secret tunnel that used to connect a barn to the home’s cellar. Is that the way your main character snuck into the home on that fateful night?

Now that you’ve got raw material to work with, peel back the onion. While your ideas are still fresh, ask yourself why the person in the ad captivates you? Is it his stormy eyes, his wavy hair? What part of the old house interested you most? The hand carved furniture? The exquisite fireplace mantel? The patterned wallpaper? What would it be like to crawl though the secret tunnel?

Take time to write down details as they appear in your life. Don’t let them go. Save them so that the next time you experience writer’s block, pat yourself on the back. You now have an idea factory ready to propel you forward.

by: Laura Dritlein

Laura Dritlein is a former freelance reporter for local newspapers and magazines. She is currently working on editing two novels with the goal of publishing them. She is constantly in search of new characters and story ideas.

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The Discipline of Writing and the Fear of Failure

As the new year begins, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. One of the toughest things about becoming a writer is discipline. We all know a book doesn’t write itself and no matter how much praying we do, the words don’t always come. I have been writing a long time…well, sort of. I spent the first five years of my writing career talking about writing, researching, taking classes, attending conferences, perfecting my first three chapters and a synopsis, but I never finished a book. 

I used to blame my lack of productivity on my day job, my family, my dog, the neighbor’s dog, anyone and anything, instead of myself. Slowly, but surely all the writers in my critique group became published authors, while I kept on pretending that someday I would write a great book.  Even after publishing seven books and having others manuscripts looking for a publisher, I still struggle with sitting down to write.

Don't wish for it, work for it

Often what keeps me back from writing is fear of failure. I’m a sensitive sort and every time someone gives me a bad review or a rejection letter lands in my inbox, I crawl in my closet (literally) with my favorite candy (right now it’s peanut M & M’s), but the key is: I always crawl back out. And that’s the answer.

God says in the Bible we should not fear anything. (I write Christian fiction, so yeah, you’re going to get some God from me.) Not everybody is going to love me or embrace what I write, but that’s okay. If you put yourself out there you will be rewarded. Maybe it’s becoming a contest finalist, an email from a fan, a publishing contract or a hug from your hubby or the kids. Whatever it is, remember your talent is a gift. So use it!

Tips on how to finish a book:

  1. Keep a log of how many words or pages you write each day.
  2. Set a goal and tell someone who can hold you to it. (i.e. I will finish this book or these many pages by…)
  3. Carve out a writing time each day and stick to it. (Start with a half hour and work from there.)
  4. Exercise (Yes, taking a walk or doing a few sit ups gets the blood flowing and the brain working.)
  5. Remember, writing time is not plotting, research or marketing time. You can plot a new book when you have finished this one.

So stop reading this post and go write!

P.S. I’d love to hear your favorite writing strategy, email me at Oliviarae.books@gmail.com

Olivia Rae headshot

Olivia Rae is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary inspirational romance. She spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town on the edge of a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.

Olivia is the winner of the New England Readers’ Choice Award, the Golden Quill Award, and the American Fiction Awards. She has also been a finalist in many other writing contests, including the National Readers’ Choice Awards and the National Excellence in Romance.

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The Internet is Not Forever, and Other Useful Social Media Advice

Picture of Social Media Icons

“The internet is forever.”

Wrong. We’ve all heard this warning. I say it to my teenage daughter all the time. But this so-called helpful advice is not only not helpful to you, if you’re like most people, it’s probably detrimental to your success on social media.

Unless you’re talking about nudie pictures, (public service announcement: don’t post nudie pictures on the Internet) letting your social media strategy be guided by the fear that any of your posts will ever be fascinating to the whole world for all time is kind of like planning your three-year-old’s career as an NBA superstar. Sure, it happens to some people, but the odds of it happening to you are just so (to be polite) ridiculously small. And, in fact, your biggest problem is much more likely the opposite: getting anyone, anyone at all, to read and care about what you’ve posted.

My day job is social media marketing, and I spend a lot of time doing it. So, from my experience, let me suggest some better, more helpful advice.

  1. Use fewer words. You know people do it. You probably do too. You see a wall of words, lengthy and dense, and you move along without reading it, even if you know it’s probably interesting. tldr is an abbreviation the kids use these days for “too long; didn’t read.” The attention span of the average social media user is approximately a nanosecond. Or less. Even if your high school taught the 12-sentence paragraph, as you’ve long suspected, your high school was wrong. Keep your sentences and your paragraphs short. Use lots of white space. And, lead with your important thoughts, so your readers see them before they stop reading.
  2. Go back and cut out a few more words.
  3. Don’t post without explanation. Tell people why you’re posting this picture, or sharing this person’s post. You’ll engage with them more if you let them know why you thought they’d like something or find it interesting. Social media is a chance for your readers to hear your voice, maybe understand a little of what you’re thinking, maybe respond, and to feel connected with you. So, connect.
  4. Avoid “saminess.” And, yes, before you say anything, that is a real word. Probably. Social media platforms all have top-secret formulas for deciding who, and how many people, will see which posts in their feeds. This is called your post’s reach. One of the things most heavily penalized is saminess. Same pictures. Same words. Sometimes you need to repeat yourself, promoting a new release, for example, but it’s important to find different ways to present it on subsequent posts.
  5. Vary the types of posts as well. Promotional posts typically get the lowest reach, but are the most important to you as an author. Build up the size of your audience with different types of posts, such as interesting informational or educational posts that your readers will find useful, and engaging posts that touch their emotions. No, it doesn’t all have to be your original content. It can be shares. And yes, sometimes this means kitten pictures and hamster videos. These kinds of posts help you connect better with your followers. And then, when you do promote, there will be more people to see it, and they’ll be more inclined to care.
  6. Avoid “selling words,” or be prepared to pay. Using words such as “on sale” or “sale price” or “to purchase” or “for more information” flags the top-secret formula that you’re advertising something. Posts with selling words have the lowest reach, because the platforms want you to sponsor or boost these posts (i.e. pay for them to be delivered to more people’s feeds.) Sometimes, that’s actually a good idea. You get to choose how much money to spend. The amount you’ll pay to get a decent reach is gradually rising, but this is still a relatively cheap way to advertise. Plus, boosted/sponsored posts let you reach people beyond those who have liked or followed you. For your first experience, start with a small amount of money, maybe five or ten bucks, and experiment with how it works. Pay attention to audience selection. You can choose your audience by age range, gender, geographical area and interests. The more you filter your audience, the smaller it will be. On the other hand, the more you filter your audience, the higher the likelihood that your post will be seen by someone who might actually be interested.
  7. Use pictures with every post you can. For many people, posts without pictures might as well be invisible.
  8. Pick the platforms that suit your style or appeal to your preferred market. There are too many to use them all. Google “social media statistics” to find out which platforms are currently popular with which gender and age group. Then get started. If you don’t yet know which ones suit your style, then just pick a popular one and try it. Feel free to change your mind after you’ve gained some experience with it. Follow other authors, and pay attention to what they’re doing, especially if you find a post engaging, or it gets a lot of likes, comments or shares, which means other people are engaged by it. If it’s working for them, give it a try.
  9. Don’t worry about making every post perfect. Take some chances, and find your voice. Just as in writing, where we have to turn off our editor on the first draft and just write, let yourself make mistakes starting out on social media. If you’re embarrassed later by something you’ve posted, you can go back and delete it. If you notice a typo later, you can go back and edit it. There will be awkward first efforts. Post anyway. That’s the best way to get the hang of it, and to develop your social media style. Remember that early on, not many people are paying attention to what you’re doing anyway, so try things. You’ll make mistakes. Take that as a given, and do it anyway.
  10. Likewise, don’t wait for the perfect topic. It’s great to post big exciting news of success, signing an agent, scoring a contract, finishing a manuscript, or releasing your next book, but you don’t wait for big news to post. Readers are interested in behind-the-scenes glimpses of the writing process and the life of a writer. It might be where you’re at in your current book, the amazing fabric you found at the quilting store, what you’re currently reading, something you learned at a workshop, an interesting post you saw on someone else’s feed, or even the color of the sky outside your window. The important thing is to provide content that someone would care about. Not sure yet what that is? Don’t worry about it. Give it your best shot. Let yourself make mistakes. You’ll figure it out. And remember, as long as you haven’t posted nudie pictures, the internet isn’t forever. It won’t be long before your awkward misfires (or even your perfect, golden flashes of genius) are buried under hundreds of subsequent posts, deep down the rabbit hole of your timeline.

by: Kristin Bayer

By night, Kristin is a playwright, and an aspiring romance author. By day she’s a digital marketing consultant and a mom. Find her at her website or on the bleachers at her kid’s game.

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13 Ideas to Inspire Creativity

Box of Crayons

Ever have a deadline and have no clue how you’re going to meet it? That painful moment that seems to last ten years where your brain refuses to engage in thought and you’re left idea-less. I was there just minutes ago when I realized it was my turn to post and I had no topic and no clue what I’d write, so…

I decided to look for help. I googled ways to inspire creativity. Here are 13 ideas to jump start creative thoughts.

  1. Be grateful. Think about all the blessing and beauty around you.
  2. Carry a notebook. Jot down thoughts, so that when you’re seeking inspiration you can thumb through and find it.
  3. That’s a good idea if you’ve started carrying a notebook and have written in it, but if you haven’t, you could doodle.
  4. Or you could color, if you have crayons.
  5. Keep the box of crayons out after you finish and see if you can come up with new names for the colors.
  6. Speaking of colors, go somewhere you can see blue—i.e. gaze into the sky, or skip a stone across a lake or find a blue room you can sit in for a while. Apparently beholding the color blue triggers creativity.
  7. Take a nap.
  8. Play a kid’s game like Checkers, Chutes and Ladders, Sorry, or Go Fish.
  9. Take a walk.
  10. Do something else you love. For me that might be admiring flowers. Here’s one of my favorite lilies.
  11. Help someone.
  12. Just start. Don’t judge the result until you’ve got plenty to judge.
  13. Seek out other creative people. Ask them to share ideas with you. This is my favorite tip and I know you guys are resourceful. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Sources
http://writetodone.com/201-ways-to-arouse-your-creativity/
https://www.themuse.com/advice/8-brilliant-ways-to-inspire-creativity-on-your-lunch-break
http://www.chopra.com/ccl/7-steps-to-inspire-creativity-within

Brenda Nelson-Davisby: Mia Jo Celeste

Mia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise when she chose to pursue both careers. You can find out more about her on her website or on Twitter.

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How to Avoid Writing Burnout

We all know about writer’s block, yes? That nagging problem where all of a sudden the words and ideas stop flowing. Usually after a day or so, the ideas start flowing again.

No, I’m talking about a real burnout where everything seems to have run into a solid brick wall. You see, I’ve been writing constantly from the mid-nineties, and crafted some interesting stories, if I do say so myself. This time, even the characters were complaining. Nothing was working in the plot, and it didn’t make sense. I was trying to force it to get another book finished.

I took a deep breath, and decided to give writing a rest for a while. Taking the summer off seems to have rejuvenated me a bit. I was getting ideas on how I could rework the manuscript.

I hope this isn’t a permanent thing, but just a glitch of some sort. After all, I’m a few months away from seventy. Nothing on my body is working the way it’s supposed to.

If this happens to you, I would go with the flow. Maybe it’s your brain saying, “I need a vacation.” Ship your thoughts off to someplace else, like a good book, and kick back and relax.

by: Ilona Fridl

Ilona Fridl has eight books out with The Wild Rose Press. She is a member of RWA since 2002, and is active in the local chapter. Also a former student of All Writers in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She lives in Southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, Mark.

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Write Touch Conference Registration is now OPEN!

Milwaukee River Walk at NightRegistration for WisRWA’s Write Touch Conference opened on the 1st of October. Our biennial event promises to offer something for every genre fiction writer. No matter if you’re starting your 1st book or finishing your 25th book, we’ve planned a conference to meet all your wordsmithing needs.

#WisRWA19 will be in downtown Milwaukee at the Hyatt Regency. We will be celebrating Daring and Decadent Storytelling with Lisa Cron, Maya Rodale, Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi and Mel Jolly.

From April 4th to Sunday April 7th 2019, we may have to brave the finicky spring weather in Milwaukee, but we’ll be able to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow writers from around the state and hobnob with literary agents and editors from around the country.

For me, enjoying Milwaukee comes naturally since I was born and raised in the city. I’m comfortable around lots of concrete buildings and bridges that wind over the Milwaukee River. I also happen to love the challenge of one-way streets when driving. Once upon a time, it was almost safe to walk barefoot down Brady Street.

In my humble opinion, Milwaukee is a beautiful city. It’s not too big. It’s not too small. It’s walkable. There’s a lot of good food, many fun happy hours and a rich history with its diverse community.

Author Tricia Quinnies holding Amy Reichert's book, The Coincidence of Coconut CakeSo for WisRWA conference-goers, I’m more than happy to be your personal tour guide of Milwaukee. The best way I know how to do this is with, of course, a book recommendation.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert is a terrific book that takes place in, you guessed it, Milwaukee. Ms. Reichert gives her characters the chance to explore the best of the best in Milwaukee, and readers can go along and enjoy the ride. It’s a sweet and delicious read that will introduce you to Milwaukee.

So let’s talk about Milwaukee…

I have a copy of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake that I’d love to give to someone. Just be the first one to comment about Milwaukee below to kick start the conversation and my copy will become yours to keep.

Bonus: The winner can get it autographed, since Amy will be at #WisRWA19!

Don’t forget to sign up for the conference. You can do so by clicking here. See you April!

by: Tricia Quinnies, Write Touch Conference Coordinator

Tricia Quinnies* writes contemporary romantic adventures. She sets her stories around Wisconsin to spin in her home state’s rich and quirky history. Her characters are known to walk the shores of Lake Michigan or the beaches of Lake Geneva. They dine in supper clubs, bowl in Door County and sip on a brandy old-fashioned, or two.  Of course, the characters in Ms. Quinnies’ stories are Bucks, Brewers and Packers fans.

Just Desserts, Ms. Quinnies’ first book was published in 2014. It’s the first in a series and set her on a new adventure in self-publishing. She is a freelance writer. Her features about local families are published monthly in the Bayside Scene, a news magazine published by Best Version Media. She is a member of WisRWA (Wisconsin Romance Writers of America) and Red Oak Writers.

*Pronounced, “Quinn-Is.”

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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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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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