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!

mimosaanna

betrayalbellevue

 

 

 

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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Drinking, Editing and…More Drinking

I was pretty pleased with myself at the beginning of this year, having finished my 1st draft of my 2nd manuscript.  Not sure if it was a mistake or not, but took a month away to start a 3rd novel before going back to edit.  Now I’m in the process of editing and so far, I think I’m doing pretty well – “editing the unmerciful suck out“…which is a FANTASTIC blog post by Chuck Wendig.  If you have a  minute, it’s worth it to check his blog out:  Terrible Minds.  I receive his posts to my email and I have to say, he’s probably one of the most hilarious, RIGHT about pretty much everything, writer.  No doubt, if you’re a writer…you’ll learn from him.

Anyway, I’ve edited about halfway through and I think it’s going well.  I had asked readers earlier this year how they edit, if they had any “sure fire” ways to get through it without wanting a drink….or twelve.  Everyone had some fantastic ideas.  I ended up doing what I did with my first one.  Pulling the first draft up onto one half of my screen and a blank page onto the other half.  Then going about rewriting the entire thing, using the first draft as the bones.  I’ve cut A LOT, but somehow have also added over 2,500 words.  Which works well, since I was 8,000 words shy of my original goal.

It’s coming along though and I’m happy about it.  Too bad life gets in the way sometimes, or I’d have it into it’s third polish.  I didn’t have the brainpower today to sit down when my kids took a nap and edit though.  So here I am…

What I have enjoyed about editing is realizing just how much deeper I can go.  The plot is already there, the characters are “real people” now…so I sort of get to indulge a little more in aspects of the story I was lazy on the first go around.  I may wish to murder all the characters by the time I’m done, and burn down the town…but I’m learning a lot and it’s exciting to see the developments.

Just for the fun of it, I entered the 1st draft into a contest with the Yellow Rose RWA Chapter:  2014 Winter Rose Contest for Unpublished Authors

Mainly because I thought any feedback from the judges would be a phenomenal boost while I edited my 2nd draft.  I really wanted the critiques…as harsh and unforgiving as possible.  I knew it would give me some ideas on where I was lacking in my writing.  I don’t have many “friends/readers” that I can go to and trust to give me sound advice.  Only a small handful – but I LOVE THEM all the same!  I just figured it would be really great to have professionals give their opinion.

In a particularly low state of mind one day, I opened my email to find I’d won 2nd place in Contemporary Series!!!  Wow.  Just….wow.  I’ve never opened up enough to show my writing to many people I didn’t know or fully trust.  So…to have these judges tell me my 1st draft was good enough for 2nd place?

Needless to say, I framed the certificate and look at it frequently.  *wink*.  Sure, it may not be published works or the Olympics of contests…but it was huge for me.  And I was right, the feedback ….wow.  I can’t really say more than that.  I so appreciate every judge and all that took their time with it.  It makes SUCH a huge difference to people like me that are maybe not as confident as others.  It helps me give that devil on my shoulder the finger whenever he tries to whisper how bad my writing is!

That’s all I need.  So.  Putting the drink down….and going back to edit the suck out!

2014 Winter Rose Contest

2014 Winter Rose Contest

Join the Club

I’m so excited!  I finally sent in my application to join the Romance Writers of America and I can’t wait to start going to meetings.  I’ve been wanting to join for a long time, I’ve even mentioned it here, but hadn’t really made the leap yet.  But after receiving my yearly bonus, I decided – it was time.  I needed to start this year off right.

As if another sign was necessary, I checked out my local chapter and their upcoming meetings.  To my amazement, I read that next month, they have a day long workshop with TWO Harlequin editors.  If that wasn’t enough to get me to sign up, I don’t know what would be!

I’m thrilled to have these opportunities.  Thank you for all the positive comments on my earlier posts about this.  It really helped pave the road to finally jumping into this!

On another note, I’ve really started picking up the pace over the last 6 months on my novel.  I’m still not near what I want to be regarding word count, but I think I’m powering along nicely.  For some reason, it’s gotten a little smoother, writing about my fantasy man.  I’m sure there’s a good reason for that, but for the life of me, can’t put my finger on it….

Maybe the light bulb will go off when I drift off tonight…

New Novel Word Count:  35,750

Write on the Sound

Starting a blog and forcing myself to get out “there” in the world, I’m such an introvert, has already proven to be great for my writing and personality.  Everyone here has been so supportive and amazing.  Some of the posts I’ve read about conferences and workshops had me really thinking about them.  Honestly, the ones I’ve wanted to go to in the past, were too expensive.  I know they are, by far worth the money, but I have twin 2 year olds and a horrible amount of debt from a past marriage.  For me to request from my husband a few $100 for a “personal weekend” away at a writing conference, just wasn’t in the cards.

Until I started this blog and, after only a week or two of learning how beneficial these conferences can be, I think it got me thinking about it a lot more.

Absently flipping through one of my writer’s digest magazines, I stumbled across a 1/4 page advertisement for Write on the Sound.  A conference that opened it’s registration this week!  And it just happens to be about 10 minutes from my sisters house up north on Puget Sound.  It didn’t take longer than 24 hours to talk to my husband and find out if he would let me do it for my birthday this year.  I’m turning 35, so I keep thinking maybe that’s a good fork in the road age, to really put my whole heart and any available time into the craft.

Originally, my husband was going to order me the Dragon software and a digital tape recorder.  I drive about an hour during the day, back and forth from work, and since I’m so horribly swamped, it’s a great time for ideas to fly around in my mind.  I thought maybe attempting to “write” during that time with the recorder might be a great time saver and get me even further along.  Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on this?  Anyone think it’s a bad place to spend money or better option that works well for them?  Just curious.

After hearing about the conference, my husband was adamant I should go.  He’s extremely supportive about my writing, even though I haven’t been published yet.  The really great thing is that he said even though I would be using my “birthday wish” on the conference instead of the software – he still wants to get all of it for me, if I still wish to have it.  That’s pretty great, I’m excited I don’t have to “choose” between the two.

Anyway, sorry for the digression.

I’m wondering if anyone has any advice or thoughts on my choice?  Feel free to check out the conference here:

http://www.writeonthesound.com

I should probably register before advertising to everyone else 😉  But if anyone is interested and in the area, it’d be great to hear your thoughts or if you’re planning on attending!

Thanks for reading …

UPDATE:

So I figured I should probably register now rather than wait, since it sounds like they sell out pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, even though registration was only a couple of days ago, 3 of the *main* lectures that I was so thrilled about, is already sold out.  Now I’m really questioning my desire to go.  I know I’ll still get a lot out of it, I would with any conference like this.  But knowing I only really have “one” option at least this year, for something like this, I just wonder if I should hold back and look for a different option.

I’m sort of considering joining Romance Writers of America instead this year for my birthday.  It’s even less expensive, until join a chapter anyway.  🙂

New thoughts on RWA?  I have only heard great things, but …if anyone has advice or suggestions, knowing I’m stretched for money.  Is this something I should pursue now?  Or do you think it’s best to wait until I’m further along?  All questions I’m asking myself.