Meeting Anna DeStefano

This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting author Anna DeStefano at my first GSRWA chapter workshop.  First, let me say that the workshop itself was very well put together.  I enjoyed meeting some of the members and everyone seemed very positive to be there.

“Anna DeStafano is an award-winning, nationally bestselling small town romances spotlight family, friendships and the forgiveness that nurtures her characters’ dreams…as they explore the issues all contemporary families face.  She’s the author of more than 27 novels (in more than 7 different languages, with over half a million copies of her books in print) that have garnered numerous awards including twice winning the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion, the Golden Heart, the Maggie Award for Excellence, and finalling in awards such as the National Readers’ Choice and Book Seller’s Best Awards.”~Read more on her website:  annawrites.com

She’s beautiful, extremely intelligent and positively amazing to listen to for hours.  It was sad when it ended, but I came away with so many great suggestions, tips and tools for making my writing better.  And not only the drafting part of writing, but the rewrite and editing as well!

She has all of her workshop notes up on her site, available to anyone and I suggest you check it out:  Free Workshops

One of the most important and SIMPLE things she teaches that “anyone” can do, is the “Beginning / Middle / End” technique.  Whether you’re a pantser or plotter, if you use this basic tool, you can’t fail in crafting a beautiful, desired story.  The idea is to sit down and, if nothing else before you write, figure out the Fear of your characters and their Goal – at the beginning, middle and end.  And here’s a hint…it should be different at each stage.  For example, she used her novel: Let Me Love You Again (Available at Amazon)

Beginning:  Her hero’s fear at the beginning of the story is attachment to a foster family he left behind years ago.  When he’s forced to come home, his goal is to get out of there as quickly as he can.

Middle:  Her hero learns that he’s a father to a daughter he never knew he had in the same town as his foster family.. ..now what?  Stay?  Go?…

End:  Hero now wants to stay, but…heroine wants him to go.

Notice that at the beginning of the story, he’s fighting against his worst fears and his goal is to stay as far away as possible.  In the middle and highest “arc” of her story, you can easily see how he is about to break and head toward the black moment.  How this “middle” incident can pinpoint his turning point.  At the end, he’s realized that what he wanted all along, wasn’t what he needed and ULTIMATELY wants.  Anna says to think about the beginning as giving your character EXACTLY what he wants, in the worst possible way.

She had so much food for thought on writing, it blew my mind and I’ve been struggling to process it all.  Anna made me think, made me feel larger than what I thought I could be with my writing.  I may still have a long way to go, but with the techniques and handouts (again, available to all on her site), I feel that there’s nothing standing in my way except my willingness to write.

Check out her novels now!  See below for a few, and her site for all available.

Thank you, Anna, for taking your time to speak with us!

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The Year of The Writer…

2016 will mark my year as a Writer.

Well, that’s my goal at least.  After finishing NaNoWriMo a “winner” with my latest manuscript, I decided that if I can do that, I can do anything I put my mind to.  Maybe not anything.  But I’m going to try, nonetheless.

So this year, I’ve thrown myself into the writing community and made myself believe that this year…will be my year.

After revitalizing my writing website, joining Romance Writers of America again, finally signing up for my closest Chapter (GSRWA) and obtaining my first critique partner – I’ve taken it a step further.  I’ve joined the Rose City Romance Writing chapter as a Golden Rose Contest Judge.  I’m excited to judge a writing contest and learn myself what others are doing in the same genre as me (aside from published novels).

I’ve also reached out to my chapter and offered my volunteering services as well as getting ready for the WOTS conference in October.  Aside from all of that, I’m opening myself up and letting some friends read my finished story now, which was always hard for me to try and do.  The fun part is I’m getting a lot of positive feedback.

Hopefully, that will be enough to get me through any bad feedback that comes my way 😉

So February will be rather busy, there are multiple contests coming up besides the one I’ve decided to judge.  I’ve entered the 2016 Great Expectations Contest with my “first draft” which I now wish I’d waited to polish before sending in, but I literally found the contest the day entries closed 🙂  Would be happy with just a little feedback though!

My family has been amazing through January.  I can’t thank my husband enough for all of his help and patience while I’ve submerged myself in writing.

My friends and coworkers, I owe my gratitude as well, since they end up sort of forced to hear me talk about writing 40+ hours a week!

It’s the people that surround you that lift you as a writer, thankfully, I’m surrounded by the best!

Now moving onto working on my synopsis – if anyone has some great advice on how to do these, feel free to contact me!  I’m researching and studied the best I can and so far, I’ve come across a REALLY great site that I think has helped me more than anything so far:

Kathy Carmichael: USA Today Best Selling Author – check out all of her workshops and printable worksheets on synopsis!

I’ll be examining her website today to learn as much as I can!

Alright, off to write I go…thanks for reading today!

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Editing & Drinking Starts Now…

NaNoWriMo is over.  The Holiday’s are over.  It’s the start of a New Year.  The Seahawks are on their way, thanks to the mishaps in yesterday’s below freezing game against the Vikings.  And I’ve made a resolution.  A promise to myself that THIS is the year.  I’ll do everything I can to become published this year.

The first thing I did, literally Jan 1st was re-join Romance Writers of America.  Whether you write romance or not, this association will boost your skills and desire!  The next thing I was determined to do is find a great critiquing partner, again I was able to find her from RWA’s critique partner matchup program.

The next thing I did was join my local RWA chapter, Greater Seattle RWA and put their February writing workshop on my calendar!  Done!

Finally, we got a new kitten yesterday.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with writing.  But she’s adorable and I wanted a photo other than a writing one for this post 😉  Meet Miss Scarlett Overkill (From Minions…how can you say no to the cutest twins in the world when they are excited to name their first kitten?)!

But back to my resolution.  The last and final step to obtaining my goal this year?  Edit and write.  Edit and drink.  Edit and write and drink and cry…

Obviously, I can’t reach my goal without ACTUALLY writing.  All the classes and workshops and partners in the world, won’t help if I don’t WRITE.

So I started this weekend.  I read through the manuscript I’d finished in November and …it’s not horrible.  It’s not GREAT, but it’s not trash.  It gave me three big concerns, but now I know where to start with editing.  Flow is a big issue for me, I think I shove too many “big words” in there and it causes the flow to slow to molasses.

The second thing I worry about is that I haven’t made my characters likable enough at the beginning.

The third concern I have is that I seem to “dump” info in the beginning chapter.  And whether it’s too much info or just not a smooth flow, I can’t be sure.  But it will be something I want to work on over the next few weeks.

That being said, I have to start.  Editing is one of the scariest things to do for me, but if I don’t jump in head first, I won’t reach my resolution this year.

Go Hawks!

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