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

 

 

 

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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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Write on the Sound – 2016

Write on the Sound is a conference in Edmonds, WA that I had the pleasure of attending in 2014, but missed out on last year due to personal reasons.  But as of yesterday, I’ve decided that I’ll return for 2016!  I’m extremely excited for the chance to attend through the first weekend of October.

As some of you may already know, the WOTS conference “is one of the premier conferences in the Pacific Northwest. Presented the first weekend in October each year, WOTS offers a unique and affordable opportunity for writers of all levels to build on their knowledge of the craft, learn about a new genre, and explore the writing industry. Its limited size makes the conference an intimate experience, perfect for sparking creativity, sharing ideas and networking with other writers.”

It’s a wonderful place to network and learn something new with every class, no matter what genre you live in.  I found one of my most exciting lectures to be on World Building.  Obviously in writing a novel, you’re spinning tales and weaving together at least a “basic” world around your characters.  But to listen to a father and daughter team that write in fantasy worlds describe their process was extremely fascinating.  They touched on stories such as Avatar and Star Wars and to look at it from a writers POV is entirely different than a reader or watcher.

Unfortunately, there are negatives that go along with it, too.  One of the most “logical” lecture for me to attend (or so I thought), revolved around romance writing.  The presenters were three romance (& erotica) authors and instead of offering advice or having an outline of what they wanted to discuss with us, they sat down and did a Q&A the entire 45 minutes.

This may have been something some of the other guests were interested in, but I found it lacked little information that benefited me.  I’d have liked to have more of their process or suggestions for writing, editing or publishing involved.  Maybe some sort of detail on how romance writing differs from others.  Or perhaps some experiences they’d had while publishing that maybe would be new information for amateur writers.  I suspect not everyone would agree with me, I mean I could have asked them to tell us about these things, but none of the other presentations had been laid out like this, so I wasn’t at all ready for such a “round table” discussion.  And to be honest, when they decided to spend half their time bashing Nicholas Sparks…I shut down.

Now as you may or may not know, I very recently wrote a post about meeting Mr. Sparks and how I looked up to him.  So it may sound like I’m a “stalking fan” or something along those lines, but the reality is, he’s a highly distinguished author and has a pretty great resume in the writing department.  I simply like to give kudos where it’s due.  Is there anything wrong with a “new” writer looking up to another that’s made such a name for themselves?

I don’t have any problem whatsoever with someone else having their own opinion, I’m as “open minded” as anyone.  I just don’t feel spending my hard earned money and taking time away from my kids to listen to these folks…should include half an hour of someone telling me why another successful writer is “beneath them” or isn’t good enough because their style of writing is “wrong” or is “only successful” because of some distorted reason.

It’s not very classy in my humble opinion.  It’s not an issue to me that these ladies don’t like NS, it’s my issue that writing is a difficult form of expression.  Especially if you stick with it, make a living or finished an entire novel.  It’s a lot of hard work.  There isn’t anyone “good enough” to speak so lowly of another person.

Aside from this negative experience, the rest of the conference left a positive lasting impression and I’m looking forward to the next one.  I just may skip the romance writing section of it 🙂

The town of Edmonds is gorgeous.  There are various antique shops, galleries and distinctive eateries in the area – all within walking distant of the conference.  If you stroll down to the waterfront, you’ll be in one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever found in the area.  While on break or lunch or after hours of the conference, Edmonds is a magical place to write.

edmondsEdmonds-ferry

Feel free to join me and say hi this year!

WOTS

Last year, I remember posting a blog about the potential of visiting Write On The Sound, but sadly, it didn’t happen.  This year, however, I’m signed up and ready to go!  The conference starts Friday, October 3 and runs through the weekend.  I’ll only be attending the Sat/Sun lectures, but I’m so thrilled that I finally get to go and check it out.

A few of the exciting workshops include:

DEEP CHARACTERIZATION Some writers struggle because they unknowingly create a main character for a novel that is an extension of the author’s issues in life. This workshop is designed to help writers gain a deeper appreciation of the inner lives of their characters, and how that can translate into dynamic, vivid storytelling.

THINK YOU’RE DONE? AN EDITOR’S RED FLAGS AND WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR MANUSCRIPT MIGHT NEED ANOTHER LOOK  Think you’re ready to submit or publish? Take one more look at that manuscript before you push the button. Three professional editors share the most common mistakes they see and help writers take their writing to the next level.

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR  Whether you write a lighthearted boy-meets-girl romp, mysteries, historicals, inspirationals, young adult coming of age novels, or create fantastical worlds in which magical creatures are the norm, romance will add a rich layer to your story. Join three romance authors as they discuss trends, industry news, and the key scenes necessary to help your characters find their happily ever after.

I’m really looking forward to connecting with other writers and people that have been through the process.  I’m nearing the end of my second edit on my manuscript…it’s a good time to think about networking.

Let me know if you’ll be there, too!

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.