I attended the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference last week in San Diego. What a great opportunity to meet with my agent, editors, and my friends. The highlight of the week was learning that my novel “Untrue Colors” won the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Award for Romantic Suspense.
I also did a book signing there with over 400 other authors including many of my favorites. If you are near the Orlando area next July, come on out. It’s such fun and all sales are donated to support literacy.
This week’s topic was chosen by S. C. Mitchell – Describe your perfect writing retreat.
If you came from the amazing Sarah Hegger’s site, welcome!
In a nutshell, I took over the sunroom in our house, and I refuse to give it back. Large windows on three sides provide perfect views of huge trees, squirrels, deer, and a few neighbors.
I started writing with a snack table and a large leather chair. It worked for a while. McDreamy, my husband, however changed everything by buying a small desk on wheels. I could keep a printed manuscript, a laptop, and a cup of coffee on it.
There was only one drawback to my setting, poor posture. Agonizing.
The solution? A lime green ball chair. I can sit on that for hours and not feel the muscle strain in my back I did when in the way too soft leather chair.
Sometimes, I head to the kitchen and stand at the island to finish some tasks. I’m also closer to the coffee. I love the retreat. I’ve trained myself over the years to focus on work in the office, soI tend to be more productive here than anywhere else. My slice of Heaven on Earth.
Betty Bolte is the next stop on this trip around the web. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch sight of one of her many pets. Dogs, cats, horses.
Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride!
If you’ve come over from Elaine Jeremiah’s website, welcome. She’s the author of “Reunion of the Heart”.
We have Vicky Mason to thank for her questions today.
1.) Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you were going to become a writer? If so, what was it?
I’ve always jotted down stories in my head. Nothing great, nothing formal. A few years ago I decided to try NaNoWriMo. I lost. I made it to 35,000 words though and wanted nothing more than to finish the book. It took me two more years to finish it. When I was done, I had no idea what to do. Luckily, I found a local Romance Writers of America chapter nearby. The day I joined in February 2012, I became focused on making writing more than hobby. Since then, I’ve finished eight other manuscripts and sold seven of them.
2.) When you write a story, do you see it unfold as one big picture, or do you add layering in subsequent drafts?
Even when I know the beginning, middle, and the end of a story, I always add subplots and additional layers into a story as I write. These are generally the best parts. The car that only starts after a push and shove, the chocolate that always remains on the heroine’s lip after eating a donut, or the hero’s fear of flying. Not plot points, but the icing on the cake!
3.) How many drafts do you usually write before you send your work to your editor?
I edit as I write, so my work has already been edited about three times before I finish a manuscript. I then print it out and edit it another time. Finally, I read it out loud to make sure everything flows.
My critique partners then pick it apart it. I send it to my agent after I have a solid draft. Then my editor sees it.
Hop on over to Raine Balkera’s blog to see a bit of her writing history and techniques.
Welcome to the Romance Weekly blog hop! I’m taking the baton from the awesome Victoria Barbour http://victoriabarbour.com/
The Passionate Kisses Boxed Set includes 10 Sizzling Contemporary Romances. Victoria’s contribution to the anthology includes: AGAINST HER RULES.
Elsie Walsh has one rule—no sleeping with the guests at her luxury inn on the rugged coast of Newfoundland—but Scottish playboy Campbell Scott is determined to show her that he belongs not only in her bed, but by her side at the Heart’s Ease Inn.
Don’t tell anyone, but I think it’s on sale now.
Here are my answers:
- How do you respond to someone calling your writing smut or demeaning your work in some other way?
I don’t respond. People who insult the romance genre will rarely be convinced to read and enjoy it. Instead, I focus on finding the people who will enjoy my work.
Writers need extremely thick skin. We pour stories onto paper and hope someone appreciates them. And most of the time, that happens, but the words don’t always reach a friendly audience.
Do the insults sting? Yes. I wish they didn’t, but I’m human and I have this strange desire for everyone to like me. It helps if I remember that taste in reading material is subjective. Not everyone wants to read Stephen King and not everyone wants to read Jane Austen. Some people prefer comics to novels and others won’t read a book unless it has been awarded a Pulitzer. The key for me is sending out my books to readers who will enjoy them.
The occasional, but brutal comments from people who don’t like reading my chosen genre are softened by readers who truly enjoy my stories After winning several writing contests in the past year and selling most of my finished manuscripts to publlishers, I’m confident I’ve found my audience.
- When critiquing or beta reading, do you ever find the voice of the other author creeping into your writing?
Yes? Although my voice is strong enough to dominate most scenes that I write, I allow another writer’s voice to infect my writing when it fits my manuscript.
I’ve had critique partners or beta readers suggest changes to my words that have not been in my voice, but nevertheless made the scene much stronger. I care about making my stories as solid as possible and sometimes that means accepting suggestions.
In addition to my own novels, I co-write novellas with my critique partner Susan Scott Shelley. When we write together, our writing blends in a unique way. I have no idea how it happens, because our individual voices are very different. Her writing voice is amazing. She writes powerful characters, beautiful descriptions, and sensual scenes. She has the ability to take a scene I write and ramp it up to another level.
When critiquing each other, however, we respect each other’s individuality and work to provide feedback that doesn’t alter what makes our voices different. I’ve tried to incorporate some of the lyrical flow she creates so effortlessly in her stories and I think my manuscripts are better because of it.
- What’s one quirky thing you do or must have around you while writing?
As I write a manuscript, I give myself permission to jump onto social media whenever I need a break. I try to write six plus hours per day and it can be mentally exhausting. A quick break can relax my mind enough to carry me through a tough scene or even provide me some inspiration.
Okay, you have my answers. Now hop on over to Rhenna Morgan http://rhennamorgan.com/
As I rush around trying to complete a first draft for an upcoming novel, I’ve decided to give you a photo tour of my past month. It’s been crazy, but crazy good.
April started with the Washington Romance Writers Retreat. What a fantastic time. Highlights included Liliana Hart’s keynote address, Cathy Maxwell’s encouraging speech, and Romance Jeopardy with a Steampunk theme.
My critique partner and writing partner Susan Scott Shelley (The woman above in the large blue hat!) spent the month working on edits for our novella, “Tackled By The Girl Next Door.” We have so much fun writing together. I hope our laughter and smiles show up on the page! It’s scheduled to be published by the Wild Rose Press in the end of October.
On April 30th, I spent a fun morning hanging out with authors at Lady Jane’s Salon with Susan Scott Shelley, Kate Forest, Penni McGee DePaul, and many others. A local news station interviewed the authors about our upcoming releases. Thank you Susan for giving the interviewer our blurb for “Tackled By The Girl Next Door.” I was too tongue tied.
And to start off the month of May with a bang, I attended a workshop with Margie Lawson sponsored by the Valley Forge Romance Writers. I immediately went home and rewrote pages and pages of text to make the words more creative, interesting, and compelling. Thanks Margie, your lectures always push me to improve my craft.
Today, I learned my two novels, Untrue Beliefs and True Deceptions earned first and second place in the Golden Pen Contest for Romantic Suspense. Unbelievable. Written last December, Untrue Beliefs, was my first ever romantic suspense. True Deceptions made its debut in the Golden Pen this year.
I discovered that Susan Scott Shelley, my critique partner, won her category in the Golden Pen because she happened to be sitting next to me discussing our next manuscripts when the emails arrived from Lorenda Christensen. Her entry, Shielded Hearts, won the Daphne du Maurier Contest this year as well as a few other contests. It’s a great story.
There’s definitely something sweeter in success when you have a friend to share it with.
So I’m taking this moment to say thanks to Susan
- for last minute reviews of 300+ page manuscripts (and yes, another is on the way in a few days- sorry for the short notice over the holidays),
- for a willingness to rehash my latest version of a scene over and over and over again,
- for creating beautiful language in her own WIPs and making me strive to produce something comparable (a little friendly competition brings out the best in us),
- and for a million smiley faces in the margins to soften her critical, yet accurate comments (and for never once making me cry, but occasionally causing major bouts of laughter).
Let’s hope 2014 is just as fun and twice as successful!
- When critiquing another person’s manuscript, remember that your voice does not belong in someone else’s work. I’ve restructured entire pages before remembering that I’m not the author and the person doesn’t necessarily want a humor hit immediately after the dog dies.
- Sometimes showing is more dramatic and effective than telling, but not always.
- Sentences containing the word “was” are not all passive. Sorry to the person whose work I annihilated. I’ve been reading up on basic grammar and shouldn’t make that mistake again.
- If judging a contest, NEVER tell the writer that you would have stopped reading if you didn’t have to judge the story. That’s just mean.
- Novels don’t have to be in deep POV. Many successful writers have drawn readers into their stories without using the technique at all.
- Rhetorical devices can create interesting, amusing, and entertaining passages. They can also create cloying, artificial, and annoying pages to endure.
- Read dialogue aloud. If it doesn’t flow off your tongue, it probably won’t flow off the character’s tongue either.
- Don’t send people a first draft to critique. Fix the glaring errors yourself so the person doing the critique can concentrate more on plot, characterization, and flow.
- Find people to critique your work that understand and like your voice. If you write snarky vampire princess books, make sure the person who critiques your manuscript appreciates snarky vampire princesses.
- Be honest, but only if it’s helpful. A professor in college once told me that I couldn’t write a quality term paper because I had no talent for writing. I proved him wrong when I won a writing contest in law school and earned a spot on the International Tax Law Review. It wasn’t my lack of talent that hindered me; it was my lack of a quality teacher.