Literacy Bash Roundup and Good News!

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What a wonderful day!

Our 2015 Literacy Bash was a huge success. Special thanks for the RWASD members who volunteered their time and gave generously to our amazing raffle. Without them, this event wouldn’t have been as fantastic as it was.

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Only a small portion of our raffle. Thank you Donnamaie White for the photo!

Our speaker for the event was the fabulous Kristan Higgins a two-time RITA award winner, and elected member of the RWA National Board of Directors. Her first talk revolved around what it takes to succeed as a writer. In her hilarious power point presentation (with hunky male photos a plenty) she key points on how to survive in the writing business.

  • The courage to begin.
    • Don’t wait for that perfect moment. Start now and give yourself a deadline
  • The courage to show up.
    • Talents don’t mean much if you do not harness it. Sit down and do the work.
  • The courage to become better.
    • Embrace the humility in not being the best. Take your time.
  • The courage to cut your losses.
    • It’s alright to admit your book isn’t good enough.
  • The courage to try new things.
    • Write badly. Don’t wait for the perfect word.
  • The courage to write when you’re not feeling it.
    • Sometimes your best work comes when its the hardest.
  • The courage to take yourself seriously.
    • Acknowledge what a great and serious thing we do as writers.
  • The courage to hear critique of your work.
    • Hearing how some people hated your work is part of the game.
  • The courage to embrace a better way.
    • Writing makes us better people.

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After a delicious lunch and some Q & A, Kristan spoke on secondary plot lines and characters and how to do them well.  She touched on:

  • The roles of secondary characters as mentor, nemesis, best friend, reflector, and deflector.
  • How linking the secondary characters involvement in a protagonist’s life makes them more layered and interesting.
  • That its wise to amp up their roles when the plot needs to expand, when the main plot line needs a break, when the protagonist needs to suffer a set back, or all of the above.
  • When to “kill” them.
  • Secondary plot lines give your story color and life to the main plot.
  • They should contribute to the story but also interfere with the protagonist’s goals.
  • They also never have to be tied up in a neat bow at the end.

On top of the great talk with Kristan Higgins we awarded two of our chapter mates with very high honors.

The Barbara Faith award was given to Tameri Etheron for all the hard work and dedication she has given to our chapter. She did it all with a smile and with a million sparkles.

Member of the Year was awarded to our current president elect, Janet Tait for keeping our chapter running so smoothly and performing some amazing feats behind the scenes to make it so.

 

Plus, tons of Good News from our chapter mates!

  • Pamela Moran – Releasing Sexy To Go Vol. 8 -11 each month plus a Halloween Edition.
  • Margaret Taylor and Pamela Moran will be teaching at Writer University February 1-12. Creating Characters using Astrology and Inside Scoop: Truth Behind Law Enforcement Relationship
  • Margaret Taylor is also teaching Investigations 101 at Writer University May 16 -27
  • Linda Thomas Sunstrom -awarded RT’s Reviewer’s Choice for Best Book 2015 for Wolf Born.  Also has 3 upcoming releases: Midnight Court (January 2016), Immortal Redeemed (April 2016), and Half Wolf (July 2016)
  • Judy Duarte – Just got a 6 book contract for Harlequin Special Edition
  • Mary Galusha – Made PAN!
  • Jackie Allen – Newest book An Unsuitable Husband has just been released.
  • Silvia Mendoza – Won 1st place and several 2nd place awards for “Excellence in Journalism” for magazine writing for the San Diego Press Club. She also got a 2 book deal for YA nonfiction biographies.
  • Lisa Kessler – Hunter’s Moon and Blood Moon were Top Picks in The Romance Reviews. Also Ice Moon came out on November 16th.

Our next meeting is our Holiday Potluck on Saturday, Dec. 12th at the Trinity Church in Escondido.

On a personal note, I wanted to give a thank all of the wonderful members of RWASD. This was my third literacy event and every year I leave feeling a deep kinship with you as well as walk away completely inspired to keep writing. I would never have had the courage to pursue this without all your support, knowledge, and friendship.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Get Ready: Literacy Bash 2015!

The countdown to RWA San Diego’s biggest event of the year has begun! In three short days, we’ll be celebrating our annual Literacy Bash! During the day, we’ll be raffling off an insane amount of goodies – by our last count, we have over 70 prizes up for grabs, including a couple of Kindles, a ton of books, and free admission to the RWA National Conference to be held in San Diego next July! All proceeds will go to benefit local literacy charities, as well as to support the awesome programs our chapter offers to writers and readers around the county.

But, by far, the most exciting part of our event will be hearing from our special guest speaker: New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins! The author of over a dozen novels, Kristan is a familiar face to those involved in the romance community: she’s a two-time winner of the coveted RITA award, was featured in the documentary of the romance industry, Love Between the Covers, and has recently been elected to serve on the RWA National Board of Directors. In my opinion, Kristan is the queen of laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, and I’ll be fangirling out as she delivers her speeches on success and craft.

If you just can’t wait a few more days to see her, Kristan will be signing books and chatting with fans tonight at the Mira Mesa Barnes and Noble, located at 10775 Westview Parkway. While you’re there, you can pick up a copy of her latest novel, If You Only Knew, and don’t forget to pre-order her next book, Anything for You, scheduled to release a few days after Christmas.

Our event sold out in record time this year, so it’s going to be a packed house. Show up early to snag a good seat, bring extra money for those raffle tickets, and be prepared to laugh and learn!

Meet the Chapter Mates: Phyllis Humphrey

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Phyllis Humphrey is a longtime writer of romance, romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. You can find more of her work at her website PhyllisHumphrey.com. Lets learn a little more about her today!

1. Who are you? What do you write?

I’m Phyllis A. Humphrey. The A stands for Ashworth, my maiden name. Because I was called “Phyll” in high school, I used the name “Phyll Ashworth” on a few of my early books. My husband, Curt Humphrey, and I have been married a long time, so I use his name on my books. “P.J. Humphrey” (The J stands for Jean, my middle name) is on my novellas about Sheridan Holmes, who partners with the ghost of Sherlock Holmes when he appears in her apartment in San Francisco in the 21st century.

I started writing short stories many years ago (everyone did in those days) and my first book was a mainstream novel which I couldn’t get published via the “agent-publisher” system which was the only game in town until about 2001 when “POD” (Print on Demand) turned amateurs with a computer into vanity publishers such as iUniverse, Xlibris and others. All my writer friends were doing that, so I did it for one book.

By that time, all my friends were writing romance and I learned that, unlike other publishers, romance editors would read everything – no agents required – and I found small houses that didn’t charge and published my books. Then my husband was asked to publish a business book for his friend, so I asked him to do mine too. And he still self-publishes some of my books through the company he started in 2002. Amazon came along in 2005 and we all know what happened after that.

Personally, I gradually moved from straight romance to romantic-suspense and lately I’m writing mysteries, Which have always been my reading choice. This year, the two publishers who accepted Dead In The Water (a cozy mystery with humor which I’d written many years before) and Eyewitness (a woman-in-jeopardy mystery written with my friend Carole, also many years before) were both released the same month, October.

2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?eyewitness_300
In 1976

3. What does RWASD mean to you?
It’s RWA San Diego, my home.

4. What is the biggest challenge your name faced in becoming a writer?
I didn’t think about it – I just wrote and submitted.

5. What attracted you to romance? Why does it speak to you?
Everyone needs romance. It’s who we are.

6. Where is the weirdest place or thing that inspired an idea to write?
Everyone has a weird place or thing that inspires writing, but mine was the train trip to Washington D.C.

7. Love scenes. Steamy or sweet? Why?
Mine are usually sweet, not steamy, because they’re easier. I don’t like writing steamy love scenes.

8. Who’s a writer you’d do back flips to meet and why?
Elizabeth George and I’d ask her why she moved from CA.

9. If you could go back twenty years, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d say, “Hurry up.”

10. Tell us about your latest novel?
It’s about a time fifty years ago and the world was simpler.

11. Before you go, any advice to give new writers?
Yes. “Hurry up. The world is changing so quickly.”

NaNoWriMo: Why I’m Cheering from the Sidelines

We’re halfway through the first week of November, which means thousands of writers around the globe are deeply settled into their NaNoWriMo writing routine. If you look to the right of our blog, you’ll see we have a fantastic widget tracking all of our chapter members’ progress toward their goals. (Go team!) Last week, Cindy provided us with some incredible advice on how to make the most of your NaNoWriMo experience. But she also mentioned that the experience isn’t for everyone; that some writers just don’t enjoy it.

I’m one of those writers.

I’m speaking from experience, of course. Back in 2013, I attempted my first NaNoWriMo. I was armed with an outline, some character sketches, and a 500 word snippet for an opening scene that I’d written in a weekly assignment for a writing class, which my teacher encouraged me to use as part of a larger work. I’d never even attempted a novel before. This was a first for me, and I was pumped.

To reach the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo, you have to write at least 1,666 words a day. This far exceeded anything I’d ever been able to do in the past, but I was confident. By the end of the day on November 1st, I’d churned out close to 2,000 words. Piece of cake! I’d thought. This is gonna be a breeze! November 2nd, I’d fallen a little short, with 1,500 words. No problem. I can make up for it tomorrow. Except I didn’t. I kept falling further and further behind, and with each passing day, I grew more and more anxious. The anxiety started to cripple my creativity, and soon I’d find myself staring at a blinking cursor, fighting off tears, telling myself I was a fool for even thinking I could do something as amazing as writing a novel.

Sometime before the first week was through, it was painfully clear I’d never make the 50,000 word goal. I gave up, and went back to short stories and essays for a while.

But even though I’d given up on my novel, I never really forgot about it. It was a story I’d been excited to tell, one I’d been in love with before the pressures of NaNoWriMo made me set it aside. So, several months later, I decided to open up that long forgotten Word document… and something extraordinary happened. All those words that had brought me such great disappointment last November suddenly filled me with joy. I rediscovered my passion for the story, and recommitted myself to finishing it – but this time, I’d do it at my own pace. Without the pressure to reach a fixed word count, without the knowledge of random Internet strangers watching my progress bar grow (or, in my case, stagnate), the words started flowing from my fingertips. I realized this was what I was meant to do. I joined RWA. I got serious. Within a year, I’d finished a clean draft, ready for querying. Since then, this novel has won an award and secured me representation by a literary agent.

For me, NaNoWriMo was a good way to get me to think about writing a novel. But the execution was nothing short of a mess. When faced with the pressure of reaching a daily word count, I froze. Now, that’s not to say I can’t write under pressure. Once I received an R&R that required me to rewrite the entire second half of my novel – which amounted to 45,000 new words – in under a month. So why was I able to succeed in this request for a revision but flail spectacularly during NaNoWriMo, I wonder? Maybe it was because the revision was a life-or-death decision for the advancement of my career. Maybe it was because the backbone of my story – the voice and themes and the heart – were already securely in place. Whatever it was, it was magical and distinct, and something I can’t seem to artificially recreate simply because the calendar reads November 1st.

So for those of you who don’t find much success with writing sprints or NaNoWriMo, don’t be discouraged. Not everyone can write at the same pace; people create in all different sorts of ways. If you’re a slow writer and you need some inspiration, I highly recommend purchasing a recording of the RWA 2015 workshop, Not So Fast: Finding Success While Writing in the Slow Lane, featuring four bestselling romance authors who aren’t churning out a book every 90 days. And if you’re on the fence about giving NaNoWriMo a try, Chuck Wendig has a great list of pros and cons about the experience on his blog. As for me? I say, go for it! The worst thing that can happen is you find out it’s not for you. And you might even get a finished novel out of it, anyway.