Check It Out: July Workshops

No matter where we are in our careers as writers, we can always benefit from continued education. If we’re relatively new to the game, it can provide us with the tools we need to establish ourselves in the field. If we’re experienced, it gets us out of our comfort zone and forces us to approach our craft and business from a different perspective. There are a wealth of worthwhile courses available online – including several fantastic workshops being offered through RWA San Diego!

In July, we’re offering two separate courses: one focusing on craft, and one focusing on the business end of things.

CRAFT: World-Building

A crucial element of drawing your readers into your story is by making sure you develop a universe in which they can lose themselves. It has to feel real, without getting bogged down in extraneous details. Challenging, right? Well, we’re offering a workshop to help you develop the skills for building believable fictional worlds, by applying the techniques used by developers of games and video games. The Geeks and Gamers’ Guide to World-Building will be taught by Eilis Flynn, who’s written a number of romantic fantasies, futuristics, and comic books. This unique class begins on July 6th, so hurry up and reserve your spot today!

BUSINESS: Self-Publishing

Are you eager to become a member of PAN? Have you considered self-publishing your work, but don’t know where to start? Then sign up for Self-Publish Your Way to PAN, with successful indie author Morgan Hannah MacDonald. You’ll learn everything from how to prepare your finished product for publication, to where to sell it, and the best methods for marketing it once it’s out there. Hurry: today’s the last day to sign up!

If you’re unable to attend the July workshops, keep in mind we offer them year-round. In the coming months, we’ll feature classes on self-editing, marketing, and web design. Keep checking back on our blog for updates. You won’t want to miss them!

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June Meeting Roundup + Good News

We had a fantastic June meeting with guest speaker, Sara Megibow. Sara is a literary agent at KT Literary where specializes in working with authors in middle grade, young adult, new adult, romance, erotica, science fiction and fantasy. In her inspiring and hilarious talk she told us all about what her job entails. Ten percent of that job involves networking, reading queries, and asking authors for representation. The other ninety percent is all about getting deals for her authors, negotiating those deals, and strategizing for her clients.  Sarah emphasised the importance of format (what  format you release your novel in), distribution (what markets will carry your novel), and subsidiary rights (beyond the novel in audio books and film) in getting a good deal with a publisher.

Awesome swag from some RWASD authors!

Awesome swag from some RWASD authors!

After lunch and a quick Q and A with Sara, it was on to a round of “Speed Dating” with members of our chapter. Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, Cassie Carver, Georgie Lee, Jillian Stone, Lisa Kessler, HelenKay Dimon, and Kitty Bucholtz gave us ten minutes of their expertise on various topics such as, how to be a healthy writer, how to write like a po et, making memorable characters, creating chapter hooks,staying persistent, plotting, and restarting yourself.

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom demonstrates uses for a foam roller.

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom demonstrates uses for a foam roller.

Kitty Bucholtz speaks on restarting yourself.

Kitty Bucholtz speaks on restarting yourself.

Our Atta Girl award went to Jackie Allen for writing through her grief over losing her writing partner and friend, Terry Blain.

The Member of the Month is Jillian Stone for working hard to keep our PALs program entertaining.
Member of the month Jillian Stone (right) with RWASD Vice-President Tameri Etherton.

Member of the month Jillian Stone (right) with RWASD Vice-President Tameri Etherton.

 On to my favorite part of our meeting, our Good News!
  • Laura Connors published The Feast, an erotic short story.
  • Tameri Etherton won the San Diego Book Award for Best Published Fantasy for The Stones of Kaldaar. She is also a finalist in the FF&P’s PRISMs contest with The Stones of Kaldaar.
  • Lisa Kessler is a finalist on the FF&P PRISMs award for Best Novella with Night Angel. She’s also a finalist in the Award of Excellence Co. Romance Writers contest in the Best Paranormal category for Blood Moon.
  • Rick Ochocki earned his RWA Pro pin.
  •  Deborah Reed was a finalist in the Best Published General Fiction category of the San Diego Book Awards, along with her co-author Lisa Shapiro, for their novel, The Chamber and The Cross.
  •  Bob Richard (RW Richard) was a finalist in the Best Published Romance category of the San Diego Book Awards for his novel, A More Perfect Union.
  •  Janet Tait was a finalist in the Best Published Fantasy category of the San Diego Book Awards for her novel, Cast Into Darkness.
  •  Karri Thompson won the San Diego Book Award for Best Published YA novel with Mirror X.

Our winner for June’s Write for the Money is Kristin Rockaway. Congratulations, Kristin! Remember, if you signed up for our next Write for the Money, you have two months instead of one to complete your tasks.

That’s all for the meeting recap. We’ll see you all next time at the August potluck!

 

 

 

 

Film Review: Love Between the Covers

Documentarian Laurie Kahn says that she’s always been interested in the work women do. So it makes sense that she decided to spend five years investigating the romance fiction industry, a female-powered, billion-dollar-a-year business that “no one takes seriously.” The result of her research – which included speaking to dozens of readers, writers, and scholars, as well as reading hundreds of romance novels herself – is the feature-length documentary film, Love Between the Covers. On June 14th, several RWASD chapter members trekked north to the LA Film Festival to catch the U.S. premiere. The film reaffirmed what we already knew: romance novels are powerful, and so are the people who write them.

Laurie Kahn answering questions from the audience after the U.S. premiere of

Laurie Kahn answering questions from the audience after the U.S. premiere of “Love Between the Covers.”

Love Between the Covers highlights what makes the genre such an unstoppable force in the publishing industry. What are often referred to as “trashy books” are actually the “ones who keep the lights on” for the rest of popular fiction. Romance readers number in the millions, many of whom devour their books voraciously, and are always hungry for the next story. And it’s no wonder they can’t stop reading them: who doesn’t like to chase the promise of a “happily ever after?”

Beyond that, romance novels have the power to unify readers and writers, by showing that the desire for a happy ending transcends time, class, race, gender, and ability. The film featured interviews with genre pioneers such as Radclyffe, founder of the LGBTQ publishing house, Bold Strokes Books, and Beverly Jenkins, one of the leading authors of African-American historical romance. Their award-winning novels have touched the lives of their readers, and continue to contribute to what Eloisa James describes as “one of the very few meritocracies left.” Every romance reader can become a writer, regardless of their background. And one of the biggest reasons for this meritocracy is the existence of RWA.

Laurie Kahn attended her first RWA conference in 2009. There, she discovered the same welcoming, pay-it-forward attitude that we share as current members. We have a serious, supportive community that doesn’t exist in any other genre. If you’re a romance writer, and you’re not a member of RWA, what are you waiting for? You can find that support and sense of community in your national and local chapters of RWA. Come to our monthly meetings and see what you’re missing!

Meet The Chapter Mates: Regan Walker

Regan Walker profile pic 2014This month we feature Regan Walker. She has a passion for history and writes sweeping romance stories in several different time periods.

Her latest novel, To Tame the Wind is out now.

You can find out more about her work at her website: ReganWalkerAuthor.com

 

Tell us a little about yourself! Who are you? What do you write?

I am a lawyer turned romance writer as of 2011. I write historical romance with real history and real historic figures as some of my characters. I like adventure along with love and so I have a fair amount of action in my stories. Thus far, I have published 5 novels and 3 novellas. A few of my stories are in anthologies, too. My stories span the eras from Medieval to Georgian (18th century) to the Regency era. Last year two of my books hit the #1 spot on Amazon’s lists of the Top 100 for their categories.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer

2012 with the publication of my first novel, Racing with the Wind, book 1 in the Agents of the Crown series.

 

What does RWASD mean to you?

Lunch with my romance author friends in San Diego and speakers from whom I can learn something.

 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey to becoming a writer?

Finding the right path for me as an author. Initially I went with a small publisher but once the self-publishing path opened up, I quickly found it was the right one for me. I have never had an agent and I suspect unless I end up wanting a NY publisher, I may not have an agent.

 

What draws you to historical romance?

I love diving into the past, researching the tidbits that make my stories seem more real, more believable, and building a world that might have actually been. For each of my novels I’ve done hundreds of hours of research.

 

What do you look for in a historical hero?

I like a hero who is smart and knows what he wants and doesn’t mind bending the rules to get it. Typically that would be the heroine, but it could also be a secret document, a pirate’s treasure, a ship, a horse or any number of things. Preferably, he will be tall, dark and handsome, but my latest hero, Capt. Simon Powell, is a blond.

 

Where is the weirdest place or what is the weirdest thing that inspired an idea?

Probably it would be the Ursuline convent in Saint-Denis in Paris. That is where To Tame the Wind begins.

 

If you could travel to a specific time period and place in one of your books, what and where would it be?

It would probably be Scotland in the deep past. I’m going there in some future books I have planned. It was the reason I traveled to the Western Highlands in September of last year.

 

If you could go back 20 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?

Though I had a great career in law, I would advise myself not to go that route again. Instead, I would have gotten a PhD in history, probably the history of Scotland, Ireland and England, taught at the university level and written romance on the side—much earlier in my life.

 

Tell us about your latest novel! ReganWalker_ToTametheWind - 800px

After writing my Agents of the Crown trilogy and some Regencies that go with it, I decided a prequel was in order. The result was a seafaring romance set in London, Paris and the waters of the English Channel in the last year of the American Revolution. Spies, privateers and politicians abound. The “blurb” kinda says it all:

 

Paris 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN

All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear… her.

A BATTLE IS JOINED The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.

NY Times Bestselling author Shirlee Busbee described it as “A sea adventure like no other, a riveting romance!”

 

Before you go, any advice to give to the new writers out there?

Just finish the book. Then get some eyes on it—people who are not your best friends but who know good romance and can give you some good advice. Not just a critique (though that is helpful), but the “big picture” advice about the story itself. Also, I’d plan ahead and keep a list of characters, etc. I wrote my first novel without doing any of that and now I must rely on my memory for a lot of it. Of course, I could go back and do all that but I’m not that compulsive. I am not a plotter either. But at least I now keep track of my characters and research as I go, keeping a record of it all.

In Memory of Terry Irene Blain

Terry Irene Blain

This week on the blog, we’re taking a moment to remember a long-standing member of our chapter, Terry Irene Blain, who passed from this world on May 21, 2015.

Terry was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and veteran – as well as an accomplished romance novelist. Over the course of her career as an author, she published three historical and contemporary romances set in the American West. She was a mainstay at our monthly RWA meetings, where she touched the lives of many of her fellow writers and friends.

Below, our chapter members share their fondest memories of Terry:

Terry was very kind and open to me as a new chapter member. We bonded over history, dogs, and soccer. My last memory of her was watching the USA beat Panama at the Sub Hub center, along with Jackie, in February. She wasn’t feeling too well that day, but was a real trooper. I will miss her.
— Michele Barber

 

Terry Irene Blain

Before I was published, when I was still submitting to publishers of series romance and getting rejected, Terry presented a workshop for an RWASD meeting about making your writing publishable.

During the Q and A period I put Terry on the spot by asking: “How do I learn to sparkle? I’m always being rejected because my writing doesn’t sparkle.”

Since then, we’d kept up a running dialogue about learning to sparkle, and at the end of my last conversation with Terry, mid-winter, she asked me: “Are you sparkling yet?”
Toni Noel

 

Whenever Terry and I saw each other at meetings, we went into soccer mode and always talked about the game here and abroad. We may have sounded like we were talking a foreign language, but we understood each other.
Jannine Corti Peska

 

I used to love talking to Terry, especially about history. She loved history as much as I do. We always ended up sitting next to each other at PALs meetings, lamenting the state of the historical market or talking about research, our current WIP, her dogs and her granddaughter. She was always so upbeat and positive and always striving to write her stories and to keep at it. I’ll miss seeing her at meetings and at all the different events. She was a wonderful lady.
Georgie Lee

 

 

When I joined RWA in 2009, I didn’t know anyone. My first RWASD meeting is kind of a blur, but one thing that sticks with me was meeting Terry. She scared me a little with her brusque swagger and big voice when she came up and introduced herself. She told me “If you want to get published, you’ve come to the right place. This is a great group.”

Terry and other members of RWA San Diego at a book signing.
She was right.

She was also a big part of what made our group great.

Whenever we needed volunteers, Terry was the first to offer to help. She and I sold raffle tickets together, filled-in at the check-in table together, and eventually I helped her get her author “page” going on Facebook. Remembering our crazy back and forth email exchanges when I tried to help her figure out if she was on her “profile” or her “page” still make me smile. But she was determined to learn, and that’s exactly what she did.

When Terry wasn’t helping out, she also took the extra time to thank those who volunteered, mailing thank you notes and sending emails. I’m going to miss seeing her posts on social media about soccer and her dogs. And I’m going to miss seeing her at our meetings.

Her love of history and historical romance inspired me. She was passionate about her books and her writing, and she never gave up. You couldn’t ask for a more courageous writer, woman, and friend.
Lisa Kessler

Terry Irene Blain