September Meeting Roundup + Good News

It was a packed house at the Best Western Seven Seas last Saturday, when our chapter hosted guest speaker Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story. Lisa spent both the morning and afternoon sessions discussing some of the salient points from her book: namely, everything you’ve ever been taught about writing is wrong. According to Lisa, beautiful writing isn’t what sells books. What sells books is an effective story.

In a nutshell, she described an effective story as “how what happens affects someone in pursuit of a difficult quest – both internal and external – and how that person changes as a result.”

Every protagonist enters a story with two things:

  1. Something they really want, and
  2. A long-held misbelief that’s been holding them back from achieving that desire.

The plot is then constructed to force the protagonist to confront those internal and external issues. And in order to keep those pages turning, the plot must have a ticking clock and a massive consequence for the protagonist. At the end of the story, the character will have “new eyes” through which they see the world, now that they’ve confronted and resolved that which has been holding them back.

Lisa walked us through some steps we can take to ensure each scene contributes to the progression of the plot – by identifying the scene’s “alpha point,” determining why it exists and what it leads to, and ensuring it contains conflict. She also advised us to loosely plan each scene before it’s written – listing out what happens, how it affects the protagonist, and what the consequences are both internally and externally. Though this sounds like heresy to pantsers, she argues that it gives the writer some predefined context for each scene, and will therefore lead to more efficient, confident output.

As always, we handed out our monthly awards. Member of the Month went to President Janet Tait, for the tremendous amount of work she puts in to keep our chapter running smoothly.

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Attagirl went to Marie Andreas, who’s endured some very difficult battles in her personal life recently, yet still keeps writing through them.

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Here’s all the Good News our chapter members had to share this month:

  • Lisa Kessler won the Award of Excellence for Best Paranormal for Blood Moon, and finaled in several contests for Night Angel, including the Prisms, the National Excellence in Romance Fiction for Best Novella, and the Book Buyers Best. She will also be releasing Harvest Moon on September 28th.
  • Georgie Lee released The Captain’s Frozen Dream on August 1st.
  • Eleanor Nystrom received a Revise and Resubmit from Entangled.
  • Tessa McFionn got a release date for Spirit Bound.
  • Kitty Bucholtz has a new and improved self-publishing class.
  • Tameri Etherton released The Darathi Vorsi Prince on September 1st.
  • Judy Duarte released The Boss, the Bride and the Baby on August 1st.
  • Kristen Koster received a Revise and Resubmit on a full manuscript.
  • Sydney Sterling published her third book on August 23rd, Meghan.
  • Kimberly Field submitted to Essays for possible publication.
  • Susan Burns released her fourth book in the Legends of the Goldens sci-fi series, Love Me, Bite Me, at the end of August.
  • Sylvia Mendoza published an article about firefighters in the latest issue of Romance Writers Report, inspired by moderating the panel the California Dreamin’ Conference.

Please join us for our next meeting on October 17th, when we’ll be hosting bestselling author Carolyn Jewel, who’ll be talking all about the world of self-publishing.

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Share Your Story: Celebrate Yourself!

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So I just released my second book. It was a tough journey filled with delays, road blocks and many bottles of wine but I did indeed finish the sucker! After I was done I did a little dance of victory, slept for about twelve hours, and then I planned a party to celebrate the release.

While doing so, I asked myself “Why bother with a party? You’ve already done this before. This is nothing new. Is that excessive?” I realized that even if this wasn’t the first time I released a book, I still needed to celebrate the moment. It was a rite of passage, a message to tell myself “You did it! Keep going!”

As writers, we write. We write, we pour our souls into a story, and we release it into the world for everyone else to read. Sometimes we don’t realize how extraordinary that is but lets face it, there aren’t many people who have the determination or the guts to do what we do. That is something to be celebrated. We need to take that time to treat ourselves and celebrate these moments of victory because even though the book is out, there is still so much more work to do.

So how do you celebrate your little victories? Do you have a get together? Go out to dinner? Maybe a marathon of all the TV shows you missed while writing your book? Please share your stories of celebration in the comments section!

There’s a long road ahead of us so lets take the victories when we can.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Book Review: Wired for Story

We all strive to write stories that keep our readers turning pages. But it takes more than “having a good idea and a way with words” to lure our readers into our fictional worlds and convince them to stay there until they hit those final two words: “The End.” It requires the ability to craft a story that keeps our readers guessing, to make them always want to know what happens next. Wouldn’t it be nice to get inside their brains to find out exactly how to continually pique their curiosity?BookImage

Well, in a way, you can. In Wired for Story, Lisa Cron argues that we’ve all got hardwired
expectations for what hooks us into a story; our brains unconsciously respond to certain events within a narrative that keep us enthralled. Using “cognitive secrets” about how the brain works, Cron draws a link between neuroscience and storytelling. When we understand what our brain wants out of a story, she says, we can craft them in a way that makes them more engaging, compelling, and “unputdownable.”

My favorite line from the book is, “Novels that are hard to read aren’t read.” But, as Wired for Story points out, “easy reads” aren’t so easy to write. There are a lot of moving parts to bring together. In her book, Cron touches on a number of these topics – theme, goals, motivation, conflict – and explains how our cognitive unconscious responds to these elements within a narrative. By evaluating our instinctive expectations, we can gain insight into how to make our readers respond on a visceral, emotional level.

Lisa-Cron-Photo-229x300On Saturday, September 19th, Lisa Cron will be talking about some of the highlights of her book at the RWA San Diego monthly meeting. Attendees who participate in Write for the Money goal-setting will also have a chance to win one of two copies of Wired for Story.

This month’s meeting is one you won’t want to miss. Sign up today!

Upcoming Classes for RWASD!

RWASD has wonderful classes every month with skilled and passionate teachers wanting to help you improve your writing. Here are a few upcoming classes you can take!

Marketing Your Book With Key Phrases

Date: Sept. 8–21st, 2015

Instructor: Eilis Flynn

Anyone who’s paid attention to advertising and marketing can tell you that there are magic phrases and words that get a reaction from people. That goes for your marketing of your books. Here’s how you can make those phrases work for you. Here’s a look at how your query letters and your marketing can get a second look from your prospective readers and editors, by using words and phrases that elicit a reaction in them.

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $15 / Non-members: $20

Open to: All

Please register at http://rwasd.com/training/index.html

 Bio:  Eilis Flynn has worked at a comic book company, a couple of Wall Street brokerage firms, a wire news service, and a magazine for futurists. She’s also dined with a former British prime minister and a famous economist, can claim family ties to the emperor of Japan and the president of a major telecommunications company, and met her husband when he asked her to sign a comic book. She’s written romantic fantasies and futuristics and comic books, as well as articles on finance, mortgage-backed securities, and precious metals. Her most recent book, Wear Black, was cowritten with historical romance author Heather Hiestand and is available at most online retailers. She’s also a professional editor with nearly 40 years of experience. She can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com.

Website: Author: www.eilisflynn.com, Editor: www.emsflynn.com

WordPress for Writers

Date: October 129, 2015

Instructor: Patrick Haggerty

An author today can hardly get by without having some kind of website. If you don’t have the resources to hire a developer, then there’s a good chance that you might find yourself out in the Internet wilds, attempting to built a site all on your own.

A quality site needs three things: vision, content, and a web development framework. The vision is your mental plan for the site and ideally it should correlate to your author brand. Your brand will then lead you to find or create the graphics and text that will make up the site’s content. Finally, to get it all online, most authors will utilize some web development framework to simplify the actual development process.

WordPress is one of the most popular web development frameworks. It’s easy to install, well supported, feature rich, and with a little guidance, easy to use. This class is designed to give you the skills you’ll need to take your vision and your content, and use WordPress to bring your site to life.

Lectures will be presented using recorded videos so you can hear and see as your instructor explains and demonstrates everything you need to become effective with WordPress. Each lecture will be announced through the email list and will be accompanied by a brief timeline. Students will then be able to use the same forms/list to ask questions, discuss lectures, etc.

Course Outline:

But I don’t even have a URL yet!

  • Finding and registering a new URL for your site
  • Locating hosting (where your site actually lives)
  • Setting up WordPress

So what’s a Dashboard and what do I do now?

  • Understanding the WordPress interface
  • Creating and formatting blog posts
  • Uploading and using graphics

I can see my site, but how do I change the look and links?

  • Changing site look with themes
  • Creating and modifying navigation menus and widgets
  • Working with permalinks

This blog thing is nice, but I just want some pages

  • Blog sites vs. brochure sites
  • Creating pages
  • Controlling text and graphics

I’ve so got this, what else should I know?

  • Adding functionality with plugins
  • Using Jetpack
  • Linking to social networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest
  • Backing up and updating WordPress
  • Core WordPress settings and configurations

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $20 / Non-members: $25

Open to: All

Please register at http://rwasd.com/training/index.html

Bio: After a failed attempt at college and four years in the USMC learning to be a better apex predator, Patrick Haggerty attended Georgia State University where he studied to be an Actuary. Not a very romantic or literary major, but a good paying one. He started consulting on software development and design in 1997 and has spent most of the time since developing and delivering technical training courses for Learning Tree International.

In 2004, while stuck reading a mediocre book in yet another hotel, Patrick decided to try his hand at writing fiction. He may not be published but these days you are much more likely to find him spending his evenings writing romance, than code. Patrick is an active member of RWAmerica, RWAustralia, RW New Zealand, and is President of the Outreach International chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

Pumping Up The Sexual Volume: Writing Sex Scenes that Sizzle

Date: October 516, 2015

Instructor: Sorcha Mowbray

Have you ever read your sex scenes and thought, eh? Do you pick up other author’s books and wish you could write those scorching hot love scenes? Maybe you just want to turn up the sexual heat a notch or two in your own writing? Then this is the class for you.

In Pumping Up The Sexual Volume multi-published erotic romance author, Sorcha Mowbray, reveals how to develop a sex scene step by step, provides tools to accomplish just that, and even answers some naughty questions along the way.

Once this class is done you should be able to write sizzling hot love scenes that include:

  • Simmering sexy kisses
  • Ovation worthy oral sex
  • Mind boggling intercourse

And it will all be done with purpose. This class is lecture/discussion based, so get your fingers warmed up for questions and your muses ready and raring to go!

CAUTION: This course is about sex. Graphic language WILL be used and the instructor may discuss sexual acts that you personally are uncomfortable with. Everyone has their comfort zone. Sorcha will keep the discussion on topic and pertinent to the class, but if you write inspirational or sweet romances—this may not be the class for you.

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $15 / Non-members: $20

Open to: All

Please register at http://rwasd.com/training/index.html

 Bio: Amazon best-selling, multi-published erotic romance author Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

You can find Sorcha at ww.sorchamowbray.com.